Tim Cook hints at a potential future plan to sell iPhones as a subscription service (AAPL)

On Apple's earnings call Wednesday, CEO Tim Cook hinted at a potential iPhone subscription service in the future, something investors have been talking about for years.

Analyst Toni Sacconaghi asked if there was a possibility that the company might bundle hardware into a subscription in the future. Cook responded that some customers already see their iPhones as a subscription model because they are on upgrade plans, "so to some degree that exists today."

Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program is a service that spreads out the cost of a new iPhone and AppleCare over 2 years. After making 12 payments, you have the option to get the newest iPhone and start the payment cycle again. This option makes financial sense primarily for people who plan to get the new iPhone every year.

While Cook did not specify what sort of bundles or subscriptions Apple might offer in the future, he did say that the company is working on an option that makes it easier for people to get on monthly payment plans for iPhones. "We are cognizant that there are lots of users out there that want sort of a recurring payment like that and the receipt of new products on some sort of standard kind of basis and we are committed to make that easier to do than perhaps it is today."

"My perspective is that we will grow in the future to larger numbers that will grow disproportionately," he said.

Recently, Apple has been promoting its trade-in program,where it buys back iPhones in good condition to put toward the price of a new iPhone.

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