Will “A Billion Songs in Your Pocket” be the tag line for Apple’s new streaming audio initiative? Apple latest leaks (they may want to check for a worm infestation) has the industry rumor mill humming. It seems that Apple is planning big things for the Beats Music streaming service is bought last year for a paltry $3 Billion. Apple is preparing a new subscription music service based on Beats technology and content deals that are already in place.
Apple has pretty much owned the digital music space over the last 10 years or so, but they’re current ITunes modelling is very quickly becoming out dated. Amidst declining sales in iPads and heavy reliance on iPhone sales, they risk being left out of an industry that they pretty much put on the map.
Can Apple take on the big boys of streaming audio starting a lap behind? With a few billion dollars and the creative geniuses at Apple, one should never underestimate them. That is not to say that everything Apple touches turns to gold. Take TV for example.
Apple’s flirtations with the world of TV have rather long history. Apple TV was officially launched in 2007 and it has not exactly been the market-dominating box that Apple was hoping for. A recent report by the Parks Associates (here) states that “More than a quarter of US broadband households will have a streaming media player by 2015, and by 2017 there will be nearly 50 million streaming media players sold globally.”
The same report finds “Roku is still the leading brand with 29% of sales, but Google Chromecast (20%) has supplanted Apple TV (17%) in second place. New entrant Amazon Fire TV is in fourth place with 10%. Consumer content choices are also increasing, with Showtime and Sony planning to launch their own OTT video services to compete with Netflix and HBO.
But Apple isn’t likely to give up on the TV space so easily. Industry executives say Apple is in talks with TV programmers about deals that would allow Apple to offer an “over the top” pay-TV service, like the one Dish has started selling with its Sling TV product, and the one Sony is getting ready to launch.
The theory is that Apple would put together bundles of programming — but not the entire TV lineup that pay-TV providers generally offer — and sell it directly to consumers, over the Web. That means Apple wouldn’t be reinventing the way TV works today, but offering its own version of it, with its own interface and user experience.