Steve Jobs once said he didn’t want to “make Android users happy” by making iTunes available on Android. Jobs was famously furious on Google for launching Android, which he considered a “stolen product.” But in the case of iTunes for Android, it was pragmatic thinking, not rage that motivated Steve Jobs; put simply, there was no point in offering iTunes on a platform that wouldn’t bring Apple any money and would make it easier for Apple users to switch.
Times have changed, and Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, is less opposed to the idea of bringing Apple services to competing platforms, if it made sense.
Now that Apple bought Beats, many wondered whether Apple would keep the Beats Music apps for Android and Windows Phone, or kill them, like it did with several other apps it bought in the past.
“It’s on Android now, and we want to keep it that way.”
The answer, according to Tim Cook and software boss Eddie Cue, is yes, Apple will keep Beats Music for Android. “It’s all about music,” told Cook the Financial Times, while Cue was a little more reassuring in saying, “It’s on Android now, and we want to keep it that way.”
Apple, the Android app developer
So, after the deal closes this fall, Apple will be officially making an Android app, and an important one at that. Is that a sign of changing attitudes, after years of building walls around the garden? We don’t know for now. Beats Music is special, because Apple wants it to grow, and that means it needs to be available cross-platform, just like Spotify, Rdio, and other competitors. So Apple can’t afford to make Beats Music iOS-only, or risk people sticking with Spotify, which works on mom’s Nexus tablet and dad’s Windows laptop too.
That’s especially important now that people don’t download tracks as they used to. In the cloud era, we want our music everywhere, and we don’t want to depend on local storage. In other words, iTunes is the past, Beats is the future for Apple.
Beats Music, only available in the US for now, needs to grow fast to pose a serious threat to the big guys, and right now it only has about 250,000 subscribers. For comparison, Spotify has 40 million users, and a quarter of them are paid subscribers.
Right after the Apple announcement, Beats revealed it would cut the yearly subscription to $100, down from $120, making it more attractive to sign up for a year instead of on a per-month basis.
The company also announced it would double the free trial version to 14 days. Beats Music doesn’t have a free tier like competing services. Check out the Beats Music app in the Play Store (US only).