The Significance of Family Sharing

Apple announced a new feature during WWDC called Family Sharing that will “bring harmony to your family’s digital life” by allowing up to six users share apps they buy using the same credit card. This is a genius play, but not all the reasons are obvious.

For one thing, people were sharing their Apple IDs with family and friends to do this, anyway. While this caused some confusion within the accounts, it was worth it to save some money through not having to buy the same app for each family member. How Apple reacted to this behavior is telling — rather than doing the obvious by trying to prevent people from “cheating the system,” they’ve endorsed it by officially allowing family to share apps among each other for free.

But isn’t this potentially cutting developers’ revenue by a significant amount? No, and I believe the opposite could be true. It’s far easier to justify buying an app for six people than one. Anyone sharing their ID before will continue their current (and now sanctioned) behavior, while those who weren’t may now consider buying apps that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

This is also great for Apple, because now that they’ve officially addressed customers’ desire to share apps, they’ve brought it into their realm of control — and can build upon it. Work on this has already begun. My favorite slide from the announcement of Family Sharing is pictured above.

I love Family Sharing. It shows that Apple is very much in-touch with how their platform is being used, is making smart decisions, and is willing to make sacrifices for a better customer experience.