There’s a new Apple leaker in town: Apple. The release notes for its updated iCloud for Windows, which was released yesterday, mentions a Google Chrome extension that Apple hasn’t made available yet. The extension, iCloud Passwords for Chrome, will automatically fill in website passwords with the details you’ve stored in your iCloud Keychain, meaning passwords you saved on your iPhone will finally be available in Chrome on Windows or Mac. There’s also a link (opens in new tab) to the Chrome store, but it hasn’t gone live at the time of writing.
Apple’s relationship with Windows has ebbed and flowed over the years: it still makes iTunes for Windows and offers an iCloud client too, but it stopped updating Safari for Windows back in 2012. Its iCloud Bookmarks extension for Chrome hasn’t been updated since 2017 and doesn’t know Windows 10 exists.
It seems that Apple may have renewed enthusiasm for Windows: according to 9to5Mac (opens in new tab), Apple has been hiring media app engineers since 2019 and intends to release Windows versions of its Music and Podcasts apps in 2021. It’s already brought Apple TV+ to the Xbox Series X, and that service works in Windows browsers too.
Why Apple’s thinking different about Windows
Apple has just announced yet another set of record-breaking financial results, and while hardware is of course its main revenue generator its services division brought in a whopping $15.8 billion in the last financial quarter.
Services, which include the likes of Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Fitness+, is incredibly profitable: we’ve heard endlessly about Apple’s typical 30% profit margin on its hardware, but the gross profit margin of Apple’s services division in 2019 was 64%. No wonder Apple wants to get as many PC owners as possible to use its services.
In some respects we’re seeing history repeat here. When Apple first launched the iPod, it soon realised that the iTunes/iPod combo could tempt Windows users to step further into the Apple ecosystem: once you’d been hooked by the iPod, Apple could then sell you more stuff. The same applies to the iPhone: if the iPhone 12 is your first foray into all things fruit-branded, it might make you think of an M1 MacBook Air instead of PC when it’s time for your next laptop. Equally, perhaps being able to sync passwords this way will mean you're more open to buying an iPhone 13.
And if Apple can’t sell you any more hardware just yet, it’s quite happy to sell you services that are twice as profitable.