Wed, Jun 10, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Apple moves into streaming music market

MUSIC 24/7:The music service is to enable artists to share songs directly with fans and include a global radio station named Beats 1, which is to broadcast nonstop


Apple Inc on Monday launched Apple Music, a US$9.99-a-month streaming music service that might not differ dramatically from competitors, but comes with Apple’s deep music roots, global brand and hundreds of millions of iTunes customers.

Apple’s push into the streaming business is likely to alter the dynamics of how consumers listen to music, as the music industry grapples with declines in downloaded songs and tries to figure out new ways to get people to pay for music.

“The Apple brand speaks for itself and it will have an earthquake-like impact on the industry,” FBR Markets analyst Daniel Ives said.

“Given the gold standard brand, given Apple’s breadth and awareness, it’s more important what Apple is doing strategically than moving the needle financially,” Ives said.

The unveiling of the service, at the start of the week-long Worldwide Developers Conference, also included the announcement of an upgraded operating system for Apple’s watch that is to let developers create speedier “native” apps that rely less on the iPhone.

Apple said that “El Capitan” will be the name of the next version of OS X for its Macs.

It disclosed that the next version of the software that powers iPhones and iPads, called iOS 9, will come out this autumn and detailed the continued expansion of Apple Pay, which is to launch in the UK next month, supported by major banks and high-street retailers and the operator of the London Underground.

Apple Pay will be available in 250,000 locations across the UK when it is launched next month, making it more widely available than when it was first introduced in the US in October last year, the company said.

However, the music service was the star of the show. Apple introduced it with clips and live appearances by stars like Drake and up-and-comer The Weeknd. Legendary music industry figure Jimmy Iovine, who came to the company as part of its acquisition of Beats, took the stage to unveil details of the new service.

Apple’s music service is to enable artists to share songs directly with fans, include a global 24/7 radio station named Beats 1 and stream music from the entire iTunes catalog. Apple Music follows similar streaming services from Spotify Ltd, which streams music from record labels and media companies, Pandora Media Inc, a self-described personalized radio station and others.

Apple Music’s US$9.99-a-month price takes effect after a three-month free subscription period. The company is also offering what it calls a “family plan” for US$14.99 a month for up to six family members.

The company also unveiled new details about its Apple Pay service, saying it was already supported by more than 2,500 banks and is expected to surpass 1 million locations it next month.

In a related move, Apple said it would rename Passbook — its app for credit and debit cards and boarding passes — Wallet.

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