Thursday, 05 February 2015 12:45

Apple prepares to put the Beats into iTunes

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Apple is getting ready to relaunch the Beats Music streaming service as a integrated part of its iTunes offering, according to reports.

Apple agreed to acquire the Beats Music streaming service and the Beats Electronics headphones business in mid-2014, and the transaction was completed in August.

As fas as Beats Music is concerned, there's been little visible action from Apple, other than the promotion of the Beats Music app in the App Store.

There was a widely-held assumption was that Apple would integrate Beats Music into the iTunes ecosystem, and a wave of reports from the US (apparently triggered by a 9to5Mac story) suggests this is about to happen.

If these reports are correct, Apple is preparing a new subscription music service based on Beats technology and content deals. It is reportedly yet to be named, so we'll refer to it as 'Apple Beats.'

While it will overlap with some of Apple's existing service such as iTunes Radio and iTunes Match, the company apparently intends Apple Beats as an addition, not a replacement.

Apple Beats will be accessible via the iTunes application on OS X and Windows, the Music app on iOS devices, and Apple TV. An Android app is also believed to be in the works, but there is no indication of whether it will be limited to Apple Beats or if it will provide broader iTunes functionality.

Like other subscription streaming services, Apple Beats will allow users to listen to tracks on demand, or listen to playlists built by other people. There will be the option to store tracks locally for offline use.

It is suggested that Apple is aiming for a US$7.99 monthly subscription, undercutting the US$9.99 currently charged by Beats and similar services.

That indicates the local price could be $11.99, which happens to be the Australian price for Spotify Premium, rdio Unlimited and MOG (which offers unmetered streaming to most BigPond and Telstra mobile customers). JB Hi-Fi Now costs $8.25 a month on a 12 month contract.

But it is possible that Apple will deliver the service from outside Australia to avoid the need to collect GST, and that could allow the company to price Apple Beats at $10.99 and gain a price advantage over the big-name competitors.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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