Apple will at last introduce its long-anticipated streaming music service, in an announcement scheduled for Monday, June 8, at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. The new service leaps into a crowded market dominated by established services such as Spotify and Pandora — but Apple apparently believes it has the formula to beat those competitors, despite arriving late in the market.
In February, rapper and business mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter along with several other music industry heavyweights rolled out Tidal, a streaming music service that charges subscription fees between $9.99 and $19.99 per month. But in April, Tidal had signed up just 770,000 subscribers — a figure that looks less than impressive compared to the 60 million users claimed by Spotify, including 15 million paid subscribers and 79 million users on Pandora.
Most of the users of the two established services are signed up only for the free, ad-supported versions. But Tidal doesn’t offer a free version.
Apple is not expected to offer a free version either. The new Apple streaming music service is a revamped version of Beats, the streaming music company and headphone maker that Apple purchased for an eye-opening $3 billion last year.
The new Apple Music streaming service will cost $10 per month for a subscription. But what does Apple have up its sleeve to set Apple Music apart from Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, and other streaming services?
So far, the answer appears to be — nothing.
The real problem, experts say, lies in the fact that for more than a decade now, music users have grown accustomed to listening to streaming music online for free.
“Competing in the ‘free’ market — that’s foreign territory for Apple. They thrive in high-profit, high-demand goods where their faithful legions literally line up to buy the latest and greatest goodies,” wrote commentator Steve Guttenberg on Saturday, on the tech news site CNet.
“Sorry Apple, the music business reconciled with the free model years ago, and once you give the goods away for free it’s hard to get the public to see any value in recorded music and it’s worthless,” the C-Net expert said.
Apple already has a streaming music service called iTunes Radio, available through the company’s iTunes app, but the service has made little impact in the market.
The Beats music service now owned by Apple and about to be relaunched as Apple Music has only about 300,000 subscribers signed up.
In addition to its streaming music service, Apple is also reportedly developing an internet TV package that would stream major network television via the Apple TV device — but despite previous expectations, no internet TV announcement is planned at next week’s WWDC.
[Image: Ian Waldie/Getty Images]