j beats headphones Apple sets its sights on streaming music market
SAN FRANCISCO Apple announced a major new foray into streaming music on Monday as it showed off a host of new software features for its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.
The $10 a month music service is called Apple Music and combines on demand listening, a 24/7 radio station hosted by live DJs and a forum for artists to give fans behind the scenes content from upcoming releases.
The service, which was announced during Apple’s annual software conference Monday, will be launched later this month in more than 100 countries. It comes at a time when iTunes songs and album sales are falling, while streaming music leaders like Spotify and Deezer are gaining subscribers and revenue.
The music service was the biggest news of the company’s five day conference, but Apple also announced a host of new upgrades and services coming later this year to the operating software for its popular iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.
The new features include enhancements to Siri, the company’s voice activated digital assistant, as well as Apple Pay, Apple Maps and the Apple Watch. Executives also mentioned a new streaming TV service that Apple is reportedly hoping to announce later this year.
Analysts say the new services and upgrades, which will be available when Apple releases free updates to its iOS and Mac OS software this fall, are part of a broader strategy to make Apple’s devices indispensable.
While many companies make smartphones and computers, “Apple’s crown jewels are its software and online services,” said analyst Daniel Ives, who follows tech companies for FBR Capital Markets.
Some of the new features could provide new profits for the tech powerhouse. But perhaps more importantly,
they may help keep customers from defecting to rivals like Google, which showed off new features for its competing Android mobile software at its event last month.
The Apple Music service represents a chance for Apple to come from behind in a digital music field that it once led. With a lengthy three month free trial, a $15 a month plan for up to six family members, and the ability to push the app to hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users, the launch could mark a major milestone in digital music.
Besides offering the new subscription plan, the app also will continue to allow download purchases from iTunes. It will be available this summer for Apple devices and Windows PCs, and in a break from Apple’s usual practice, it will also be released as an app for Android devices this fall.
The live radio station, called “Beats 1,” puts a twist on Internet radio, a field led by Pandora, by having human DJs host a constant stream of talk and music from Los Angeles, New York and London, led by former BBC host Zane Lowe.
“Apple Music is the next chapter in music,” CEO Tim Cook told an estimated 5,000 software developers attending the conference. “It’ll change the way you experience music forever.”