Apple is preparing to destroy Spotify with its own music streaming service
When Apple acquired Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion last year, the company’s largest acquisition to date, it was getting more than just a ridiculously popular line of audio products, it was also getting access to an already established music streaming service. By using Beats Music as a base, Apple is developing a new streaming service that it believes will be able to take on the likes of Rdio and Spotify.
Obviously Apple intends use the immense power that itself and Beats already have in the music world to help drive this new service and one of the best ways to do this is by integrating the two. The company has already started to integrate Beats Music into iTunes and will continue to do so for Apple TV and iOS devices over the next few months. But while Beats will power this new service, all of design will be done by Apple so you can rest assured that this integration will feel as natural as a new update.
As Mark Gurman explains in an article for 9 to 5 Mac:
“Rather than merely installing the existing Beats Music app onto iPhones, Apple has decided to deeply integrate Beats into iOS, iTunes, and the Apple TV. The company is currently developing new Beats-infused versions of the Music application for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, as well as an updated iTunes application for computers that deeply integrates Beats functionality. A new Apple TV application is also in the works.”
This integration will see many of the features that Beats Music already offers, such as curated playlists and the service’s own social networking features, included in Apple’s new service. Naturally the service will be primarily cloud-based but Apple does intend to allow users to download at least some of the songs from the service’s catalog to their device for offline listening, similar to what Rdio and Spotify allow, but it’s not clear what the limitations on that feature will be like.
You can’t compete with an industry leader like Spotify with just features and integration, however. In terms of what makes a music streaming service successful it’s the price of the subscription itself and the size of the music catalog that really matter. It stands to reason that the power of Apple and Beats will have amassed an impressive catalog, but what of the price?
As it turns out, the price is looking to be where Apple’s new service will really shine. With how much Apple and Beats tend to favor expensive premium products I half expected the service to be comparatively expensive but it looks like that won’t be the case at all. If rumors are to be believed, Apple’s new service will start at $7.99/month which is actually cheaper than the $9.99/month that seems to be an industry standard. What’s even more surprising is that Apple apparently shot for $4.99/month in the beginning but the big dogs in the music industry negotiated a slightly higher cost.
I found myself actually getting excited as I was doing research for this article, as well as a little nervous. I’ve made it abundantly clear how much I love subscription-based streaming services. I long ago dropped my several gigabytes of purchased/pirated audio files in favor of a Pandora and Spotify subscription and I haven’t regretted it since. What made me nervous was that, while this new service is shaping up to be something truly impressive, I just recently made the switch from iOS to Android and Apple’s tendency to favor exclusivity over a larger audience meant that this new service would likely be exclusive to Apple’s own products. That’s when Apple surprised me again.
As I said before, Apple has a long habit of choosing to keep its services exclusive to its own products which is fine when the whole point of those services is to act as an incentive for the products. A music streaming service is different, however, and exclusivity would only serve to cripple it, particularly when you’d be alienating a demographic as massive as the Android user base. Obviously Apple recognized this and is already working on an Android version of the service.
I mentioned in a previous article that music streaming services are already outpacing digital downloads, which themselves have essentially replaced physical disk sales. While Pandora and Spotify have always been my favorites, Google Play Music, Rdio, and obviously Beats Music are also excellent choices. With Apple entering the market in full force and with a clearly aggressive expansion plan, I imagine the already rapidly growing music streaming industry is about to go thermonuclear, which is pretty much an answered prayer to me considering how I’m streaming music pretty much from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep.