Apple oh Apple. While this week it’s been all about Apple Pay, just last month all eyes were on Apple Music. Initially launched on 30 June, the product has so far been made available across all Apple products and PCs, but the global giant naturally has bigger plans.
While the date has not yet been set, rumours are flying that Apple could be making the app available on Android devices this autumn. But what does this move signal, much speculation abound?
Up until now Apple has maintained an ecosystem which is exclusive for its own devices. Could branching out to Android devices point towards an acceptance that Apple is no longer feeling like the ace in the pack?
So far this year, 11.5 billion songs have been streamed in the UK; an 80% increase from last year. While Apple Music customers account for 22%, paying Spotify users are leading the way at 31%.
With half of Spotify users also iTunes members, the question should be asked – can Apple steal the spotlight following its initial three month Apple Music trial?
Currently, Beats 1 Radio station on the Apple Music app is free, however it will come at a cost for Android users. The station has received generally positive reviews so far, with 84% of tweets on launch day expressing positive sentiment about the new service.
Whether this encouraging reception towards Apple Music continues is questionable. Already, the app has been criticised for being difficult to use – overwhelming for a first time user and not as sleek and user-friendly as you might expect an Apple product to be.
Apple’s planned partnership with Sonos puts to rest some rumours that Apple Music would only work on Beats speaker devices. With this, Apple Music will match Spotify’s universal reach, meaning users are no longer locked into its exclusive ecosystem. Will this mean extra subscribers? Probably.
Streaming users want the freedom to use any device or speaker system. Locking users out is limiting its audience.
While Apple’s previous strategy has been centred on selling more products, Apple Music is different. As the service is slowly becoming cross-compatible with other devices, users will no longer need to purchase an Apple product to listen.
At this stage, and once again, Apple is the follower rather than the innovator, and is unable to compete with Spotify if its users are limited to Apple’s existing customer base who already own an Apple device.
To catch up with the mass streaming hype (the volume of total streams on audio services hit 5.32bn in Q1 this year, up 81.4% on the equivalent period in 2014), Apple has paid a vast amount for Beats, radio presenters and thanks to Taylor Swift, doing the right thing by paying artists for the work they’ve created. The question is – how can Apple sustain this commercial model and succeed without total control or delving into someone’s pocket, privacy or enjoyment? Where’s the catch?
If Apple is to become a universal music destination it can’t sustain ‘exclusivity’. Music is a consumable product which stimulates our senses rather than a lifestyle choice. It’s what makes us shake that leg spontaneously, and we will continue to seek it out and listen wherever we can find it, usually in the easiest and cheapest manner like free to air radio.