When Apple announced its satellite emergency SOS service with the iPhone 14 lineup, it said at the time that it would be free for the first two years — meaning it would require a paid subscription after that.
Earlier this month, Apple gave iPhone owners an additional 14 years. As it stands, both iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 owners will get free service until September 2025. After that, Apple faces a problem…
Apple should keep its emergency SOS satellite service free
John Gruber wrote a few pieces on this topic. In one, he suggests that Apple Wants To make it free forever, however necessary to evaluate the cost.
My hunch on this is that Apple wanted to make this available for free forever, but wasn’t sure how much it would actually be used, and therefore how much it would actually cost. If they come out and say it’s free forever, then it should be free forever. It’s safer to do what they did here: make it free for an additional year one year at a time, and see how things go as more and more iPhones that support the feature remain in active use.
In another article, he points out a PR scenario that could be disastrous if Apple starts charging for it. associated Washington Post The article describes an incident in which a car thief took a car with a 2-year-old inside…and the car maker refused to track the car’s location until an expiring $150/year locator subscription was renewed!
After Shepard frantically called 911, investigators contacted Volkswagen’s Car-Net service, which can track the location of the manufacturer’s cars. They hoped to locate Isaiah.
But a customer service representative said that wouldn’t be possible because Shepherd’s subscription to satellite service had expired, according to a new lawsuit. The employee said he could not help until the $150 was paid, the complaint said.
As Gruber points out, things could be worse.
If Apple ever cuts the free service for compatible iPhones, eventually someone will die because they chose not to pay to continue the service.
We can all imagine the headlines if a family of hikers were injured and died in the wilderness, only to later discover that they tried to use an emergency SOS service via satellite service and failed because their free subscription had expired. apple he have To find a way to keep it free.
Here’s how I think the company will do it
One possibility is that Apple simply continues to bear the cost forever, regarding it as a public relations and marketing expense. We’ve already got feel-good stories about the service saving lives:
But this is Apple, and if there’s one thing the company loves as much as selling us some shiny new device, it’s signing us up for subscription services — so I think the company would monetize them if it could.
We’ve already seen one piece of evidence regarding a potential monetization model: the roadside assistance add-on. This is also currently free, but it’s very easy to see how it could be turned into a chargeable feature without risking a PR disaster.
The other thing is to look at what subscriptions for emergency signals offer. Take Garmin’s InReach Messenger app for example. Once you pay $300 for the device, you have the option of subscriptions:
Security: $14.95 per month
While the Basic The selling point for this is the same as Apple’s emergency service, and you’ll also get unlimited check-in messages. These are static text messages that allow you to reassure your emergency contact that all is well.
For example, if you’re on a weekend wild camping trip, you can allow your emergency contact to send check-in messages at, say, 9am, noon, 3pm, and 6pm. Each of these items lets them know that everything is okay, and they include your location. So they are no Receiving the check-in they expect, they can trigger the alarm on your behalf, with your last known location.
Entertainment: $34.95 per month
This plan adds the ability for family and friends to request your location at any time. They use a web interface to make the request, and the satellite system pings your device and sends your location back.
This is another easy way to provide reassurance when you’re out of cell coverage, letting a family member or friend know that your trip is progressing as expected. If they see that your location has remained the same for a long period of time, when you were not expecting it to stop, they can again contact emergency services on your behalf.
Mission: $64.95 per month
This option provides the ultimate in reassurance – updating your location every two minutes, and allowing unlimited tracking across the web.
But it also lets you stay in touch via text messages when you’re off the grid. You can send an unlimited number of personalized text messages, just like you would on a cellular plan.
Apple could easily adopt this type of model
You can get the current SOS service for free: you can call for help when you need it. This is supported by a series of paid subscriptions, similar to Garmin’s.
By keeping the core service free at all times, Apple avoids a PR disaster that Garmin risks with its own offerings. The Adventure Company offers the option of one-time monthly subscriptions, which are automatically cancelled. While this flexibility is great – you only pay when you’re on holiday, for example – it increases the likelihood that someone will forget, and therefore be unable to ask for help when they need it.
The company may also choose to include some better tiers of free within Apple One. There are a lot of possibilities here. No matter how Apple does it, I’ll put money on a basic service that remains free forever.
What is your point of view? Please share your thoughts via your comments.
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