Apple has always prominently featured gift cards in their retail stores, but the reason for doing so isn’t the same as other companies. Restaurants and clothing retailers love the idea of gift cards since it’s guaranteed upfront cash that may not even be used if the recipient loses it or forgets they even have it, and all those sorts of benefits also apply to Apple.
There’s a deeper strategy at play and it all began in 2010 meeting between Apple Executives, then CEO Steve Jobs said the company should aim to tie other products together so they can further lock customers into their ecosystem, this led to software features like Airdrop and continuity, which made it easy to move files between Apple devices and do things like finishing email on your Mac that you started on your iPhone, but efforts to lock-in customers didn’t stop with convenience features.
Eddy Cue, Apple Senior Vice President of Services, thought their digital products played an important role too, recommending that Apple include iTunes and App Store gift cards with every product sold, because once users began growing their personal collection of music and apps in Apple’s ecosystem it would be stuck there and they wouldn’t be able to take it anywhere else, but Jobs didn’t like the idea of giving away gift cards for free, and preferred to prominently feature them on tables inside retail stores instead, and that strategy remains in place till this day.
Although the way Apple approaches gift cards has changed, they used to offer multiple cards, each with their own function like the App Store gift card, Apple Store gift card, and iTunes gift card, each could only be spent at their respective store.
That was a little confusing for customers though, so they were all replaced with a universal card that could be used to pay for hardware, software, and services. And for the first time ever Apple included stickers that come in a variety of designs. likely to further incentivize customers to purchase gift cards and perhaps even collect every design, all while falling deeper into the Apple ecosystem.
This article is inspired by a video in Apple Explained YouTube channel.