During yesterday’s WWDC keynote event, Apple announced a host of new software technologies and upgraded solutions. OS X El Capitan looks to be a solid release, incorporating Metal, updating Notes, integrating iPhone gestures, and making the entire OS faster. The entire El Capitan package looked like another solid – and free – OS X upgrade. iOS suddenly became much smarter and relevant with iOS 9, and Apple’s aggressive OS update with watchOS 2 lets developers run wild with newfound power on the wrist. Apple Music looks to be the iTunes update everyone has been waiting for, and it finally arrived. Among the piles of announcements, perhaps the most ground breaking, if not shocking, was nothing more than a mere footnote. Apple is launching Apple Music, its largest software initiative in years, for Android.
Starting June 30, Apple Music will be available for iOS, OS X, and Windows. Apple states Apple Music will also be available for Apple TV and Android phones this fall. Apple PR can burry that OS name wherever it wants (front, back, the middle of a sentence), it still sticks out like nothing else – Android.
Apple has no fear of Google’s music initiatives. Spotify and Pandora are the main targets for Apple Music. Both competitive offerings provide streaming solutions and have carved out a solid niche against Apple's lackluster iTunes Radio. Apple was stubbornly slow to identify the popularity of streaming music amongst the hip and young. Spotify and Pandora grew and validated each other, rapidly aging iTunes and solidifying the fact that streaming music services were here to stay.
At first glance, Apple Music appears to get the entire music solution right. Connect, Apple’s built-in solution which allows artists to directly interact with their fans, is being called Ping 2.0 by some. But unlike Ping, Apple is not relying on FaceBook to provide a treasure trove of backend data and support. Rather, Apple has built the system from the ground up, with easy ties to FaceBook and Twitter feeds.
Apple’s new Beats 1 solution (B1), delivers worldwide music streaming, with a scale the competition cannot match. The service should drive a healthy amount of $9.99 monthly subscriptions and early adopters across all platforms — a key target being Android.
Apple Music is an ambitious move, and replacing the iTunes brand will prove expensive and is clearly risky. But Apple is not in the tech and media industries in order to play it safe, and adding Android smartphones to the Apple Music mix is not following the company’s often criticized walled garden game. Android entering the mix this fall shows Apple is not afraid of the platform, nor the services that have been protected from Apple’s offerings until now.
It has suddenly become crystal clear how important the acquisition of Beats was for Apple. Dr. Dre and Jimmy Lovine got the attention of Tim Cook, and Apple is now revealing how serious they are about music. Android now in the mix? Apple Music is playing for keeps.
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