I finally caught subscription fatigue and it's all Apple's fault

App Store on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

The days of paying for something in the App Store and using it are a part of history, at this point. You can blame a race to the bottom which means people won't download an app or game unless it's free for that. But developers still have to make money, which means in-app purchases and, more pertinent to this piece, subscriptions.

Now don't misunderstand my point here. I'm not saying that subscriptions are bad. Far from it, I think that they are an ideal way for developers to ensure that they get recurring income. In a world where people expect their apps to grow with them, gaining new features as they go, recurring income is vital.

The thing is, I've spent the last however many years adding subscription on top of subscription, firmly of the opinion that subscription fatigue is a myth. That was until, as is so often the case, a straw finally broke the camel's back. And that straw had a giant Apple logo on it.

A price hike too far

That straw was Apple One, the subscription that gets you a range of Apple services under a single, monthly subscription. I paid for the big daddy one, giving me and my family access to iCloud Plus, Apple News Plus, Apple Fitness Plus, Apple TV Plus, Apple Music, and Apple Arcade. That's everything Apple makes, all included for £32.95 per month. Or, after Apple increased its prices recently, that became £36.95 per month. And that was enough to get my attention.

See, that's quite the increase when you remember that Apple only increased its Apple One prices a year ago. and, frankly, it's just too much.

Now, don't get me wrong. You'll save almost £28 per month compared to paying for all of those subscriptions separately. But as became increasingly clear to me during my subscription awakening, that only matters if you actually use those subscriptions.

And it turns out we don't.

We need iCloud Plus because we keep all of our family photos and videos in iCloud Photos, so that's a non-negotiable. But everything else? Well, things are more complicated.

The Apple One conundrum

With iCloud Plus untouchable, it was time to look at everything else. We'll start with the only other service that I kept after my cull, with Apple TV Plus getting a reprieve thanks to the fourth season of For All Mankind and the premiere of Monarch: King of the Monsters. But once they're done and dusted, and assuming there's no sign of Severance season 2 on the horizon, Apple TV Plus might not be long for this world either.

Moving on, there's Apple Music. And it turns out that not only do we have YouTube Music thanks to our YouTube Premium subscription (the kids watch a lot of YouTube) but I was the only one using Apple Music. Everyone else in the family used the Spotify Family subscription because they enjoy the recommendation algorithm over there. So Apple Music is out and I now use Spotify instead. That's another one gone.

Next? Apple Arcade. I think this one might come back depending on what games are new out at any given moment but right now, having found out once again that I suck at playing Football Manager, nobody seems to want it — everyone would much rather play on the Xbox or PlayStation instead. So why keep paying for Apple Arcade?

That leaves us with Apple Fitness Plus and Apple News Plus. The former I haven't used since it launched, as much as I probably should, and the latter I use once in a blue moon. So again. why am I paying for it?

And that was just the start

By the time I'd finished the £37/m subscription was reduced to £6.99/m for Apple Arcade and £8.99 per month for iCloud Plus. That's much more reasonable, but it was just the start. I'd caught the bug, so I went looking to see what else I could cancel or downgrade.

So off I went. Netflix? We were paying for the best Premium tier the streamer had to offer with all the 4K and HDR money could buy. But how often do we really watch Netflix? And when we do, I'm the only one that cares about 4K and HDR so why not save some cash? And ads? Again, only I care about avoiding them and realistically, I rarely watch Netflix.

It's the same with Disney Plus, so that's been downgraded. I already recently explained my move away from 1Password to iCloud Keychain, again saving a few pounds per month. I've also set all of my non-essential App Store subscriptions to lapse the next time they're due for renewal and if I miss whatever they are, I'll renew them. If I don't, I won't even notice they're gone. Even if there are only a couple of those that fall by the wayside, it has to be a better approach. In the past I've added a subscription here and a subscription there, arguing that it's only an extra pound or two per month. But they soon add up, and that's when it's time for a tidy-up.

Subscriptions still have a place, though

It's important to make it clear that I'm not changing my position on subscriptions as a concept. Some people really hate that 1Password is a subscription service these days, and they're very vocal about it. That's not me — with all the server-side components to 1Password, a subscription is absolutely the right way to charge people for it. The same can be said for iCloud One and all of its various bits and pieces.

But the key is that you have to actually use these things to get value from them. And I don't, and neither do my family.

How much has this little awakening saved me? I honestly don't know — I daren't look because I'll just feel silly for not doing it sooner. But I do know that I feel good knowing that I've done it, and that might just be worth it all on its own.

When was the last time you went through your subscriptions and canceled something?

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • Annie_M
    I've been thinking of getting rid of some of my subscriptions as well. I have been putting this off, and don't know why it's so hard. But it's time. This will be a great New Year's resolution! Cull the subscriptions!
  • EdwinG
    I have been doing that exercice since 2022.

    I started with Netflix when they raised their prices over $16/month. Then, Disney+ went out the door.

    Even yesterday, I subscribed to TSN Direct for a single game, and I already unsubscribed (that’s $20/month).

    It’s also worth to check if the yearly price is better for your use case.
  • FFR
    Paying for YouTube music Spotify and Apple Music, indeed op it’s all apples fault
    Personally never subscribed to YouTube, Spotify or Disney plus.

    I’m good with my Apple subscriptions.
  • Lee_Bo
    Well I’m sharing Apple One Family between 3 people, so it’s still a good deal. T-Mobile pays for Netflix and we get Amazon Video with our Prime subscription.

    I’ll occasionally get Paramount+, Disney+, etc, for a month if I want to catch up on something, then cancel it.

    The only other one I use daily is SiriusXM. As long as they continue to give it to me for $5/mo, I’ll keep renewing it.