Apple's Revamped Beats Music Service to Be Announced at WWDC

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-03-06 Print this article Print
Apple, Beats music, streaming music

The Beats Music service was earlier rumored to be unveiled at the company's upcoming March 9 event for the Apple Watch, but is being delayed until June's WWDC, according to reports.

Apple's revamped Beats Music service plans are expected to be unveiled in June at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), rather than at next week's March 9 scheduled event where the Apple Watch is rumored to get its kickoff event.

The delay in scheduling for the Beats announcement is due to "the departure of key employees and the difficulty with integrating Beats' human and technology resources into Apple," according to a report by Pocket-lint.

The Beats Music service is expected to be launched as part of an upgrade to a future iOS app and will also be offered through a stand-alone Android app, which would be the first such app built internally by Apple, according to the analyst firm Seeking Alpha.

Beats Music's streaming service will reportedly be priced at $7.99 a month, which is less than several competing streaming services, including Spotify and others, according to reports.

Apple is holding a special event on March 9, when it will likely provide more details about the upcoming Apple Watch smartwatch, which is slated for an April release, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The event was also initially expected to have announcement news about the Beats Music offering.

In September 2014, Apple denied widely circulating rumors that the company was planning to actually shut down Beats Music just four months after it bought the company for $3 billion, according to an earlier eWEEK story. While the shutdown rumors were flatly shot down by Apple at the time, a company spokesman refused to give details about what might lay in store for the streaming music division.

The denial of the rumors was in itself interesting and unusual because Apple, like other companies, usually remains stoic about reports and rumors it doesn't want to discuss publicly.

Apple bought Beats Electronics in May 2014, which included Beats Music as well as the company’s headphone business, after rumors had been circulating about the transaction for almost a month, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The purchase was made with $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in Apple stock. Beats Electronics, founded by rapper Dr. Dre and pop music producer Jimmy Iovine, makes high-end headphones and also operates Beats Music, the popular streaming radio service.

What Apple plans to do with Beats Music in the future is still uncertain, and the company hasn't been talking publically about its plans. The denial of the closure rumor certainly doesn't mean that Apple would never take such an action, nor does it mean that Apple will always operate the company as a separate division as it does today. At this point, Apple watchers will just have to wait to see what happens next with Beats.

At the time of the Beats Electronics purchase, Apple did show that it is getting a little less proprietary and a lot more open-minded in its delivery of musical content to customers. The Beats Music part of the deal, which many observers think is the key to the entire transaction, shows clearly the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's intention to move to a multi-platform approach.

At the time of the acquisition, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company will continue to operate Beats Music not only on Apple's iOS devices but also on Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone operating systems, marking the first time that Apple would offer a music delivery system that works with a rival's devices and systems, according to a report by The Financial Times at that time.

The budding streaming audio service that Beats Music had in place prior to the acquisition was seen as something that Apple could capitalize on, according to a May 2014 eWEEK report published before the deal was announced. Apple is already offering its iTunes Radio streaming service, but it could use some of the technology in Beats and bring it to iTunes. In addition, the growth of the streaming music business, especially at the expense of CD sales, was also seen as a lure for Apple in making its original acquisition.

The Beats headphones also fit nicely into Apple's product line and were already being sold in Apple stores. The team of engineers who design and envision the Beats headphones are also now part of the Apple family and could potentially be integrated into Apple at some point, adding value and audio improvements that could be very lucrative.

Beats launched Beats Music, a $9.99-a-month streaming music service for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices, in January, according to a previous eWEEK report. Beats also made an exclusive deal with AT&T at the time, offering up to five family members with AT&T service unlimited music for a total of $14.99 a month. In addition to access to 20 million songs, the service features technology that creates custom playlists for users through personalization technology that rivals competitors.



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