Yes, that would be a lot of free storage given away. People only pay for iCloud storage to use with their Apple devices, so if new Apple devices suddenly came with free iCloud storage…then who would pay for iCloud storage? Well, some people (maybe people with 16GB iPhones) might use the free storage to back up the whole device, and then buy a little more to keep their photos and videos flowing to iCloud Photo Library without having to sync the iPhone to a Mac to offload photos that way. To facilitate this, Apple could make it easier to manage what files are kept where—say, by providing an “iCloud Locker” that only lived in the cloud and didn’t sync to your devices. That way you could offload files to the cloud, freeing up space on your devices but still having those files accessible on demand.
The Services portion of Apple’s business is growing, but it comprises a lot more than just iCloud storage fees. If millions of customers suddenly got more iCloud storage for free, it’s possible some other services would see an increase in revenue that would offset some of the lost opportunity. For example, you might buy more apps or content to fill up your device, since you know that even when it’s stuffed to the gills you’ll be able to back up the whole thing to iCloud. Since the free iCloud storage would cumulative, customers have more incentive to go all-in with iPhone, Mac, and iPad, and the more Apple devices you own, the more likely you are to buy apps, purchase content from iTunes, subscribe to Apple Music, enroll in AppleCare+, and so on.
This certainly isn’t a brand-new idea, but consider me firmly on the bandwagon. Apple has tons of money, so giving away free iCloud storage when you buy a Mac, iPad, or iPhone probably wouldn’t send the company to the poor house. It would, however, suddenly make a 256GB laptop or a 16GB iPhone or iPad seem a lot more valuable.
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