Subscriptions.

Photo courtesy of apple.com

I was flicking through my subscriptions list on my iPhone the other night when I said out loud to myself, “what in the blue blazes are you doing”? I realized I had way too many active subscriptions on my iCloud account and I was barely using most of them.

It was then that I realized that Apple was really smart when they got into the credit card game. By offering an Apple credit card, with promises of 3% cash back on purchases from Apple, it was just the little nudge that suckers like me needed to justify the purchase of yet another app or subscription from the Apple eco-system.

There’s a huge number of developers out there building beautiful apps that make our lives better. There’s no doubt about that. But there’s also a lot of crud available out there. And with this new paradigm of software where “you don’t own it, you just pay to use it”, pockets get emptied. Quickly.

Apple News+. US$9.99/month. Apple advertised a magazine browsing experience on your favorite iDevice that would transcend the likes of Harry Potter’s moving photos and paintings and Hogwarts. In reality, most of the magazines are PDFs of the printed copy and are chopped off at the bottom of the screen on my iPad.

Apple Music. “Hey Siri, turn on the buffet”, referring to the Philips Hue Light strip we have lighting up the dining room buffet. The response? “Sure, here’s Phoebe Buffay and the Hair Balls with ‘Smelly Cat'”. I ask Siri to play “some nice dinner music” from Apple Music and it plays Metallica. “Play some instrumental background music”. A woman immediately starts singing. Anything I want on Apple Music is more easily obtained from Spotify, which we already pay for.

iCloud. Apple now offers to storage plans that are on either side of what we need, either 200 GB (not enough) or 2 TB (approximately 2000 GB, way too much). It’s easier to just store my files on a hard drive in my office attached to a Raspberry Pi. And it’s probably more secure.

When we start heaping on the TV streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, etc) to replace cable it ends up that it’d probably be cheaper to just get cable.

I’m all for developers and service providers getting the money they deserve, but at some point one has to choose what’s important and what’s extra frosting left on the spoon.

I’ve culled the subscriptions down substantially and I’m committed to sticking to a manifesto I wrote around software and hardware purchases, and determining which services deserve cash and which do not.

Let’s hope it’s a good first step to not wearing out my credit card.

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