Apple became something more with the Beats acquisition today – a multi-mobile platform developer at least for the time being. The company will continue to operate Beats Music on Android and Windows Phone, Apple CEO Tim Cook tells The Financial Times’ Tim Bradshaw following the acquisition.
While Apple has offered iTunes for Windows in the past, this marks the first time that an app it runs, even through a subsidiary, will be available on a rival mobile OS. Apple says it’s “all about the music” when addressing this change of practice, and it marks a departure that could become very significant as we think about what this deal means for the future of digital media.
The Apple acquisition of Beats is said to be primarily about the streaming service, according to a source familiar with the deal, and the Beats brass team will be reporting to Eddy Cue, we’re told. That provides lots of support for the theory that Beats will help in part to transition iTunes from digital downloads to a streaming-based economy.
What’s most interesting here, however, is that Apple has secured a multi-platform foothold in streaming – one that iTunes Match didn’t really help it to achieve, especially with regards to the mobile ecosystem. Apple might still champion and make the vast bulk of its money on iOS and the iPhone, but if it wants to continue to dominate the digital music and media industry for the next decade in the same way it has the last, it needs to look further afield.
From the horse’s mouth, via a Tim Cook internal memo to Apple employees published by 9to5Mac:
Apple’s history in music began with selling Macs to musicians. That remains important to us today, but we also bring music to hundreds of millions of customers with iTunes, which is at the forefront of the digital music revolution. Music holds a special place in our hearts at Apple, and we know that we can make an even bigger contribution to something that is so important to our society. That’s why we have kept investing in music and why we’re bringing together these extraordinary teams — so we can continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world.
Cross-platform has long been a defense that streaming media companies have thrown up against the threat of efforts by industry giants like Apple. If Apple sticks to Cook’s stated plan to offer Beats Music across a range of devices, that may no longer be a valid point to hide behind.
We reached out to Apple to find out if in addition to remaining available, the Windows Phone and Android Beats Music apps would continue to be actively developed, but we had received no response at press time.