Apple continues to roll out its Beats Music streaming service to new venues, despite the fact that there have been rumors of its imminent demise. Today, Beats Music announced a partnership with Southwest Airlines to deliver its streaming library to inflight entertainment onboard Southwest planes that offer Wi-Fi, with availability kicking off today, November 3.
The new partnership means that Southwest customers will be able to access Beats Music for free while onboard, complete with Beats’ curated playlists, and the customized playlist maker The Sentence, which uses feedback provided by users via responses to a set of questions to generate an endless collection of tracks. As part of the partnership, a Southwest 737-700 plane has been decked out completely with a Beats paint job, including a pair of Beats headphones encircling the cockpit.
To use Beats Music free on aircraft, users will have to have a device compatible with the Beats app, which includes iOS and Android, and can also work with any web browser that works with the browser-based Beats streaming site. The partnership is not unlike previous arrangements that have seen customers access Wi-Fi hotspots in locations like Starbucks that offered free location-based access to paywalled newspaper content.
For Apple, this means expanding the number of potential customers that it can draw to Beats Music, as using the free service on Southwest planes provides them with pretty much a captive audience of potential buyers and an extended, focused onboarding trial experience.
At the end of September, Apple brought Beats Music to its Apple TV desktop streaming device, and all indications are that it will continue to operate the service in the short-term at least, despite rumors to the contrary, including an original report by TechCrunch. It’s also very possible that Apple is trying to bolster subscriber numbers in order to prove the service’s continued viability, since if it does end up rebranding and repurposing its streaming music efforts under the iTunes brand, as other outlets have subsequently reported, its current product and partnership arrangements won’t be in vain.