Music was the star of the keynote at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this morning. But it shouldn’t have been.
Apple spent a precious 45 minutes on its new music service, a mix of curated music, live radio, and an artist social network site.
The real headliner should have been a new Apple TV device and streaming service. I think Apple had originally planned it that way.
Numerous reports said Apple was planning on unveiling a new Apple TV box and an accompanying content bundle at WWDC.
Reports said the new TV box would have a larger hard drive and an A8 processor. Apple has been in negotiations with content owners like CBS to put together a “skinny bundle” of TV and movie content. The service was also rumored to have a certain amount of live and local TV, filling out the remaining requirements of a cable-cutter’s delight.
A new video device and service represents a big money-making opportunity for Apple. It also represents a powerful beachhead in the living room that also could be occupied by other services like Music and HomeKit. The television is expected to become the control hub for all the connected home devices connected to the HomeKit platform.
But in the days leading up to WWDC, reports began to surface that Apple TV wasn’t ready yet. So the headliner spot was given to perhaps the smallest piece of the Apple living room — music.
Apple Music didn’t hold its own. It’s a derivative service that cobbles together a music suggestion engine, live Internet radio a la Dash Radio, and a social media fan site.
The curated streaming service looks much like the old Beats Music, although it can draw on your past iTunes purchases to help select songs you like.
The Beats One radio service is yet to be seen, but it’s a crap shoot whether or not it will broadcast music and interviews that you will like.
And the Connect social platform harkens back to Apple’s failed Ping social music platform. This time you’ll be able to get a wider set of content from your favorite artist, but chances are, all the same stuff will be available at the artist’s Facebook page or home page.
The Apple Music app looks better and presents music in some new ways, but no great leaps forward.
Hardly “revolutionary,” as Apple CEO Tim Cook called Apple Music this morning. Had the whole service been free, that might have been revolutionary. But it costs $10 per month just like the premium tiers of other streaming music players.
Apple Music looks like a stopgap. It may be just good enough to stop iTunes download customers from defecting to Spotify. Now Apple has its own Spotify, except it isn’t free.