The smart phone wars may be seeing a détente. With the Beats acquisition, Apple will now be making apps for Android and Windows Phone.
Everyone seems to have an opinion as to which mobile platform is the best. As Apple and other technology companies battle for market share, many customers have taken to supporting one side or the other. For some, it is like rooting for a sports team. For others, it is almost fanatical, with beliefs supported by talking points and circular logic.
Steve Jobs is notorious for vowing to go “thermonuclear” on Google after Android launched. Tim Cook thinks differently. He has made peace with Google. With the Beats acquisition, Apple will now make apps for Android and Windows Phone. Cook confirmed that Beats will continue to make apps for Android and Windows Phone.
Beats has quite a history with Android. Not that long ago, HTC was the majority stockholder in Beats. Select HTC Android smart phones came equipped with Beats audio processing, speakers and optional docking stations. HTC has since pulled back its investment in Beats. Now it’s time to see what Apple will do with the company. They have already made it clear that they’re most interested in the streaming music business.
It is unclear whether Beats technology, such as speakers, headphones and digital signal processing, will make its way into Apple devices. Most of these products will be sold at Apple stores. Beats was founded, in part, on the notion that they could sell better headphones to iPod listeners. Apple has made improvements to their ubiquitous ear-buds, but they leave much to be desired. Apart from the high-end audio production capabilities of the Mac, consumer-oriented Apple devices tend to have mediocre sound quality.
What is the Beats Music App?
Beats Music is a music streaming service that also allows on-demand playback of songs. Although iTunes Radio is the best music streaming service I have used (it has over 27 million songs!), adoption has been slow. Adding Beats into the fold gives Apple new technology to improve iTunes Radio, in addition to more customers. The Beats Music app is quite popular, with millions of downloads on Google Play alone.
Beats Music is different from other streaming music services. The service offers music curated by in-house experts. Additionally, one can enter a sentence and Beats will play appropriate music. If you enter “I am at the beach”, Beats will play beach-oriented music. Beats has 20 million songs, which is less than iTunes Radio. I expect there to be a lot of overlap, however, it will likely increase iTunes Radio’s repertoire. The addition of new technology, in-house curators and loyal customers will only help Apple’s streaming music efforts to prosper.
Android Users Want Apple Content
Despite the smart phone “war” and strong opinions, many Android users long for Apple content, particularly podcasts. There are a number of podcast apps on Google Play. Many of these have achieved the ranks of top apps and have millions of downloads. Apple doesn’t officially make a podcasts app for Android or Windows Phone, and there is no reason to do this. There is no return on investment. Podcasts are free. They are intended to drive the adoption of iPods and other Apple devices.
It would make a lot of sense for Apple to develop iTunes for Android and Windows Phone. iTunes isn’t a huge revenue generator. The iPhone is Apple’s biggest money-maker, by far. That said, it would be inexpensive to develop iTunes for other platforms. It would expand sales of music, movies and TV shows. The addition of iTunes Radio would increase ad revenues for Apple. I won’t hold my breath, but it would make a lot of sense for Apple to move in this direction. Perhaps with the Beats acquisition, Apple might lean toward making iTunes for other mobile platforms. Apple currently develops iTunes for Windows PCs