It appears Apple didn’t learn its lesson from forcing unwanted “gifts” on consumers, and is preparing to push its recently acquired Beats Music music streaming service onto all iPhone and iPad users next year, an FT report claims.
Beats Music is Spotify competitor created by music impresarios Dr Dre and Jimmy Lovine as a spin-off from their over-hyped headphone business. The whole company was bought by Apple earlier this year for an impressive $3 billion, and it looks like forcing it on iOS users is how Apple hopes to make back some of that money.
As a streaming service, Beats Music is about on a par with the likes of Deezer and others, but does not have the market penetration of Spotify – or at least not yet. It faces the same problems of those services in that musicians complain that the rates they receive from the service per stream does not make up for the lost as streaming services eat into album sales.
Once heralded as the saviour of online music, iTunes has begun its terminal decline as users move away from an ownership model for music towards on-demand streaming and this is why Apple has moved to take control of that game. It was the iPod and iTunes combination that made Apple relevant again as a company, and allowed it to begin its domination of the smartphone and then tablet spaces.
However, since the loss of Steve Jobs, Apple appears to have moved away from any grand ideas, and instead now plays catch up on new features with Android.
Building Beats Music into its iOS operating system in a future update feels distinctly like the Microsoft at the turn of the millennium, when the Redmond-based software giant spotted it was no longer in control of the IT world as the internet began to take hold. Back then Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with its operating system, with the sole purpose of pushing Netscape, then the market leader with its Navigator browser, out of business – and this is what Apple is trying to do now.
A huge company like Apple flexing its financial muscle to push the little guy that developed the market (in this case Spotify) into obscurity may be nothing new, but Microsoft was forced to pay huge fines for its anti-competitive (antitrust) behaviour in both EU and US courts – and Apple should face the same punishment.
Beats Music adds little that is not available form Spotify or others in the sector, and Apple’s marketing might could well propel the service into becoming a true competitor for the top spot, but bundling the service gives Beats an unfair advantage.