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Follow Your Compass

Abby Sullivan Feb 7 2020

Today, we see Apple struggle in the subscription department. Plus, The New York Times hikes its price... for the first time ever. And finally, a pricing AMA (ask me anything) with ProfitWell resident pricing pro, Patrick Campbell. 



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Apple subscriptions: what gives?

It looks like Apple, although a brand we know and love for trailblazing in this space, could be struggling in the subscription sense.

Apple has reportedly added 30 million paid subscribers to its services business for nine consecutive quarters. And apparently, its goal for 2020 has stood still at just that: 30 million per quarter. 

But with all the subscription offerings that Apple has—think Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+ (which were all freshly announced in 2019)—we wonder, why isn’t this steadily increasing?

Its number of subscribers is the primary metric Apple is considering, and ideally the company can keep growing this figure—and disclose it to investors. But, as we know, different metrics may be applicable to different stages of a company. 

And a lot of success comes down to: 

    1. Centering around a compass metric
    2. Enabling a data-driven process
    3. Understanding the axes through which SaaS metrics impact your business

Reverting back to #1 here, let's talk a bit about compass metrics.

In the startup world, we all have growth numbers that we want to hit—but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is actually achieving that growth.

Unfortunately, though, what we're continually finding with SaaS companies is that most folks are simply setting a target (which is a great first step) but then just throwing a lot of things against the wall and hoping things pan out by the end of the quarter (very much, not good). We’re not saying this is Apple’s approach, but we know a lot of companies—both big and small—lack true accountability behind their growth process and progress.

Your compass metric cadence intentionally should become repetitive and constantly top of mind for every person throughout your organization. Yet, your priorities, goal rate, and even your measurement interval should evolve to constantly fit your company's needs. 

So we’re hoping for the best for Apple (and we have faith they’ll get there). And for you, the very same. If you want more advice around pricing strategy or SaaS metrics, here are some of our best resources:


NYT raises the bar (& the price)

We’re also eyeing The New York Times, for a move it has never made before: an uptick in subscription pricing

As one of the first American news organizations that put its content behind a paywall after allowing unrestricted access, The New York Times has remained tried & true with its price since back during its launch in 2011. 

So, why the bump??

It’s actually hard to say. Apparently, earnings from 2017 to 2018 show the Times' digital-only subscription packages increased 18% year over year to $401 million. The newspaper now has over four million digital subscribers, and aims for 10 million by 2025. It tops all major newspapers with paywalls that have gradually shifted from print to digital in recent years. The New York Times has added more than 200,000 digital subscribers every quarter since mid-2018 and its stock rose more than 5% on Tuesday.

This could just be a classic case of pricing power, which essentially refers to your ability to raise your price without reducing demand in your product. Understanding how much pricing power you have is super important, because the knowledge helps you predict how price adjustments will impact your customers, as well as your business. Instead of worrying about whether or not you’ll lose customers, you’re able to raise your prices with confidence.


Go ahead, ask us anything

And finally, a heads up for you.

We have a pricing AMA (or, ask-me-anything) coming up next Thursday the 13th, during which our very own pricing pro Patrick Campbell will answer-your-everything as you ask-him-anything. 

Because we know it’s no secret: Pricing is HARD

And a lot of you guys are getting it wrong. (Don’t shoot the messenger.) Instead, be proactive.You’ve got nothing to lose. Come hang at this AMA next week and we’ll run down tactical tips you can immediately implement into your pricing strategy, as well as methods to feeling confident in your pricing decisions moving forward. 

Space is limited, though, so we’re prepping you nice and early. Head here to sign on up

That’s it for your February 7 episode of Recur Now. We shall catch you right back here—same time, same place—on Monday.

This has been a Recur Studios production—the fastest-growing subscription network out there. If you find use for this show, subscribe for more like it at


By Abby Sullivan

Content Marketer

Subscription market insights you won't find anywhere else.