Jason Snell on Apple TV+, gifts for users, and the soul-sucking term ARPU

Jason Snell:

In the regular phone call with Wall Street analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook tried very hard to get investors excited about Apple’s opportunities to make lots of money while not making it seem like Apple’s lost its soul in the process.


Consider the soul-sucking term ARPU. It stands for Average Revenue Per User (or, alternately, Unit), and it’s a useful-yet-noxious lens through which businesses can view their customers. Of course, businesses should be aware about how much revenue their customers are generating—the issue is more that focusing on ARPU is often a sign that a business is on a path that will attempt to wring every last penny out of its customers.

Jason does a nice job explaining the balance Apple finds between being purely focused on ARPU, and prioritizing a positive customer experience. Part of that balance is the. “gift” of Apple TV+:

The analysts wanted to understand why Apple, after spending billions of dollars on developing a bunch of new premium television content, was going to give it away to purchasers of Apple hardware for a year.

And Tim’s reply:

Yeah, it’s it’s a gift to our users, and from a business point of view, we’re really proud of the content, we’d like as many people as possible to to view it. And so this allows us to focus on maximizing subscribers, particularly in the early going.

Read the whole article. It’s interesting, and really frames the competing pressures of maximizing revenue, quickly building up a subscriber base from nothing, and finding a way to keep customers happy, all at the same time.