Disney+ Launches, Apple Card Approvals, The Productization of Privacy

Disney+ has finally launched, and Disney has marketed it as heavy as I have seen them market anything in the last few years. Every ABC network channel has been running ads, and their commercial for the Mandolorian feels like it runs once an hour during any major TV or Sports broadcast.

I’ve written about the financial expectations investors have for Disney+ as well as some research I’ve come across for awareness and intent to subscribe before, but to recap, Disney itself forecasts 20-30 million US subscribers by 2024, and their narrative to investors for that forecast included assumptions around the percentage of households with broadband they believe they can reach which is roughly 25-30%. Subscriber numbers get tricky when you build these assumptions because of family plans or shared accounts. So thinking about this in terms of households that subscribe is the right metric. However, even with that context, I think Disney may beat their own expectations for subscriber numbers much earlier than they believe.

With that in mind, there are a few interesting points to make to keep an eye on. The first is how this business is new to Disney. I know Disney is generally cutting edge with technology, but running a cloud business (which is what Disney+ is) is a different beast. Knowing how to scale, support, manage, etc., will be key for Disney as they build this out. They already see issues as demand seems higher than they originally thought, and the service is less than 12 hours old. They sent this tweet out this morning.

I love how the tweet informs us they already had high expectations, and the demand has exceeded that!

Disney is a world-class organization when it comes to customer experience, but that will again be tested here in the digital realm against a host of companies who also do this very well. I expect Disney to learn fast, but this is a new type of business, with a host of new competitors, and it will be fun to see Disney navigate these waters.

The other point is that of the binge expectation. I know Apple, HBO, and others are firm with the episodic releases of content, but I generally wonder how much Netflix has changed the consumer mindset and binge behavior. For example, after I signed up for Disney+ this morning and looked at a few originals, you only see one episode, which honestly felt like a bit of a letdown. Sure Disney has a whole back catalog, but I think most people will subscribe for original content, that is, at least what the research suggests, and if that is the expectation, then after onboarding and having only a few new things to watch could be disappointing.

Apple Card Approvals
A rat’s nest was stirred up in the media earlier this week as people were commenting on Twitter that they felt Apple Card approvals were heavily gender-biased. The initial issue was brought up on Twitter via a thread where Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson shared his wife’s experience applying for Apple Card. That led Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to chime in, and the media took it from there.

I’m glad Apple and Goldman are looking into this, but this entire experience shows just how little anyone seems to know about how people are measured for creditworthiness. Which, to me, highlights an opportunity if nothing else to be more transparent, or perhaps even build a bitter solution for assessing creditworthiness. That being said, I have enough friends in the credit card industries to assure me this actually had nothing to do with gender. The factors which go into credit assessments are credit score (obviously), income level, debt to income, rolling credit, and the number of loans, to name a few of the variables.

Another factor here is that of a joint Apple Card. Apple Card does not offer a way to add another person to it, even though I suggested this idea day one, rather, each person must apply individually. This gets a bit more tricky when someone is applying, and most of their income, debt, or loan accounts may be joint with another person. I’m glad Apple and Goldman are looking into how to easily bring a family solution to Apple Card as that should have been there at launch.

Lastly, this situation also highlights something I warned about when I first wrote about Apple Card when it was announced. I argued the risk to Apple in getting into a credit card, was when something inevitably goes wrong, which may be out of their control, people will blame Apple, and the risk of negative PR or user experience was high. That is exactly what happened here. Even though this is Goldman Sachs approval process, not Apple’s, Apple is the one who gets the blame because their name is on the card, and people have high customer experience expectations of Apple.

This will not be the last time something like this happens, I’m sure, and it’s all part of the learning process for Apple as they venture more into services and banking.

The Productization of Privacy
Apple making privacy more of a product than just a feature is truly genius. Apple launched a new page at apple.com that articulates this movement to more deeply explain how privacy is central to Apple and the customer experience they seek to provide.

If we take a step back and look at the overall industry, especially the consumer category, it would be hard to deny how much privacy has entered the discussion. While we may debate the filter in which consumers use to trust, or not trust, companies based on the discussion, the bottom line is Apple is responsible for bringing privacy more into consumer consciousness.

Again, debating how much this indirectly helps Apple is fine, but from my view, the fact they have forced more companies to talk about this and be more intentional about their privacy positioning is a consumer win. We still have a long way to go, but having privacy as product building mentality is not something that existed before, and Apple is leading the charge, and I expect many others to follow.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

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