Rumor has it, or better yet sources/employees at Apple and Beats music has said that Apple plans to discontinue its relationship with Beats Music. Right now this only seems to be a rumor, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
However, the lingering question is: what is the relationship between Apple and Beats Music? Beats Music is a customizable music app that Apple was offering to all its customers on its iPods and iPhones. However, it seems that this relationship may be on shaky ground. It seems that Apple does have intentions to shut down Beats Music as a separate entity and instead roll it into its iTunes music program. So what would this mean?
If Apple were to move Beats Music into iTunes this would mean that the first thing to happen would be that the Beats Music app would be removed from the iTunes App Store. (This would then mean that Apple would have to provide streaming through its iTunes store. We’ll have to wait and see when this happens.) Apple is still not confirming any reports of a shut down, however.
Nonetheless, one thing that does, and should, raise a few eyebrows is the fact that with the launch of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus, the Beats Music app seemed to have been missing from both phones. All of the other familiar and expected apps were there, but Beats Music was missing. This was exhibit A. Exhibit B was another red flag, when at the time of the Apple Watch reveal, Beats Music was not even mentioned. This would have really created some doubts and questions about Apple’s relationship with Beats Music. Tim Cook, however, did speak once about Beats Music at the Apple Watch reveal when he announced that the band U2 would be offering their album there.
In fact, even though Beats Music was not mentioned much at all in the Apple Watch reveal, another app was mentioned called the Remote app. This app has an icon image of a blue play button on the phone screen. When this icon was tapped during a demo, music instantly began to play.
Severing ties with Beats Music, would actually be a smart move for Apple, and make lots of sense. Here’s how it would break down…Apple users and customers are used to Apple’s simple and streamlined screen, apps, and interface. If Apple were to keep Beats Music alongside iTunes, then Apple customers would have to learn a whole new interface. This might bring confusion and frustration. It is also widely known that the CEO of Beats Music, Ian Rogers, is also in charge of iTunes radio at Apple, which means that if Apple were to keep Beats Music as part of their lineup Mr. Rogers would be pulled in two different directions. This would hinder him from focusing his attention solely on Beats Music.
It only seems natural to maintain Beats Music’s cool status as an accessories brand, with its stand-out headphones, instead of using Beat Music as software. There are some individuals, like Beats Music employees, who have been told to look normal and keep everything business as usual.
Still, dropping Beats Music would give Apple the opportunity to direct its attention to its existing iTunes customers and users. This staggering number is 800 million, with over 400 million credit card numbers of these users on file.
In addition, showing up late to the party has not helped the popularity or growth of Beats Music. They came behind the music program greats like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, and Google Music. The familiarity was already established with these companies and their customers, which made it hard to Beats Music to join the group. In addition, Beats Music attempted to set itself apart from its counterparts by having curated playlists and mood-based radio. This move, however, failed to draw the attention from the customers of the already established music programs. Also, AT&T customers were offered a seven-day trial of Beats Music and about 5 million people accepted this free trial, but only about 25,000 people signed up for a subscription to Beats Music.
When you compare these numbers to other music apps like Spotify, they are very small and daunting. Spotify has 10 million paid subscribers and 40 million listeners; Pandora has the largest amount with 76.4 million active listeners. Yet, when you measure Beats Music alongside Apple’s iTunes, there’s no comparison at all because iTunes has such a vast number of users.
With all that has been said about Beats Music’s relationship with Apple, Beats Music may still help Apple through talent, technology, and industry relationships. Apple’s biggest challenge through all of this is what the will choose to do with streaming music into iTunes. Can Apple handle this? This best decision Apple can make is to provide streaming through iTunes. This means that Apple will still maintain its iTunes customer base, while also attracting new customers to its streaming option.