Danger ahead. At a moment when consumers are finally breaking free of the cable TV “bundle”—industry code for charging people a pile of money for a bunch of TV channels they mostly don’t watch—tech companies are trying to ensnare them with similar traps. Witness Google’s Pixel Pass subscription plan, unveiled on Tuesday. It offers the new Pixel 6 along with Google’s various music, video and cloud storage plans for a slightly discounted monthly price.
Google is one-upping Apple, which has been gradually expanding its Apple One bundle with different combinations of its music, TV, cloud storage, news, fitness and gaming services, but so far has stopped short of throwing in the iPhone. That makes sense: The iPhone is hugely popular whereas the Pixel is…not. Whether Google can improve the phone’s popularity by packaging it with a bunch of services people may or may not want is doubtful. The problem is, unless you use everything included, the savings are either negligible or nonexistent. The same thing is true, incidentally, of Apple’s bundles.