Apple will not shut down its Beats Music service, acquired in May as part of its $3bn purchase with Beats headphones, but may rebrand it as part of iTunes.
A company spokesman told the Guardian that the reports of Beats Music closure were not true, corroborating a report from technology site Re/code that Apple would maintain the Beats Music subscription service.
Apple did not rule out a rebranding of the service, which could bring it in line with the company’s iTunes music brand. It already operates a streaming music service in the US called iTunes Radio, which operates as an ad-supported personalised radio service, using particular songs or artists to build a playlist rather than allowing the user to choose tracks individually.
Unlike the Beats headphone brand, which has worldwide recognition, Beats Music has failed to gain widespread recognition. The service was launched in January in the US, but has not expanded to the UK or elsewhere. Beats Music is available on the iPhone, Android, Windows and through a browser, and recently launched on Apple TV with its iOS 8 update.
Uptake has been slow, with just 111,000 registered accounts in May, according to leaked figures, and an estimated 250,000 users through the service’s combination of personal and family accounts, and Apple has shown no signs so far of pushing the brand further.
‘We’ve been doing it for years’
U2’s frontman Bono, who joined Apple chief executive Tim Cook on stage at the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch on 9 September, revealed in an interview with Irish radio station 2FM that he had been working with Apple on a new music format for years.
“With the team at Apple we’ve been doing it for years, and it’s not ready yet for Songs of Innocence, it will be ready for Songs of Experience,” Bono said. “It’s a new format, and you can still get the MP3 format, and you can rob it or whatever you want but you won’t be getting the full experience.”
“It’d be like you walking down the streets in Dublin in the 70s with a copy of the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers; just the vinyl, and not the Andy Warhol designed sleeve. You wouldn’t feel like like you had the proper package,” he said.
Apple has attempted to revive the album artwork and experience of owning a physical copy of an album through its iTunes LP format, which includes interactive album artwork.
The new music service might be offered under a free trial to every iPhone or iPad user, similar to the 90-day free Beats Music trials currently being offered to customers of US mobile phone provider AT&T, to entice users away from established music services.
Apple is unlikely to make any sort of rebranding attempt this year, but Apple acquired both the Beats Music service and the people behind it, which could see them join the iTunes team as Beats becomes fully integrated into Apple over the next few months.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 23rd September 2014 11.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010