Last Christmas, we had a platform catch 22 situation at my mother’s area. The handiest factor she loves greater than her iPhone 8 is the Amazon Echo in her front room. She likes to name out previous jazz tunes from the sofa at night time. Even so, she let her Amazon track carrier subscription expire. She refuses to pay for two track services and products, and she doesn’t like having two virtual assistants in her existence.
Things will likely be more practical this Christmas. Apple made the surprising transfer final week of bringing Apple Music to Amazon’s Alexa-powered gadgets. Now my mother can standardize on Apple Music—which has some lovely nice curated jazz collections—and really feel much better concerning the ten dollars a month she will pay for it. Like her, tens of millions of people will have the benefit of Apple’s user-friendly transfer, together with numerous iPhone homeowners who will develop into new Echo homeowners this vacation season.
In one sense, Apple’s choice to place its track carrier on the Echo replicates its previous choice to place Apple Music on Android gadgets. But it’s emarkable as a result of it sort of feels to return on the expense of Apple’s personal ecosystem.
Until now, the one good speaker Apple Music labored on was once the corporate’s personal HomePod speaker. Theoretically, the removing of that exclusivity method one much less explanation why to spend money on a HomePod. On best of that, the HomePod not boasts the important thing differentiating characteristic of sounding higher than each different good speaker, now that Google and Amazon (and Sonos) have free up extra audio-focused fashions. Listening to track is nonetheless through some distance the quantity one use of good audio system, analysis displays.
So why would Apple do that?
While the corporate competes with Amazon and Google within the good speaker marketplace, it is additionally in a fierce combat with Spotify for the subscription track carrier marketplace. Apple Music has about 56 million paying customers to Spotify’s 87 million. It may well be that it’s now extra essential for Apple to get get admission to to all the ones Alexa/Echo customers than it is stay Apple Music unique to its personal good speaker.
It’s laborious no longer to have a look at that selection and see it as any other signal that buyers have in large part rejected the HomePod. Gene Munster at Loup Ventures estimates that Amazon will promote 28.5 million Echos this 12 months (nearly all of them within the $29 to $99 vary), and Google will promote 16.2 million of its Home audio system. Apple, he forecasts, will promote handiest 3.5 million HomePods. There are causes for this disparity. The HomePod is quite pricey, at $349. While it does sound nice, it’s deeply locked into Apple’s ecosystem; you’ll’t do so much with it different than play track from Apple Music, the Apple cloud, or different iDevices.
Had HomePods been flying off the cabinets, it’s some distance much less most probably Apple would have put Apple Music on Alexa/Echo. Even if it’s no longer an admission that the HomePod is a flop, it can be a signal that Apple acknowledges the bounds of its personal voice ecosystem.
Or no longer. Again, it’s laborious to do combat with Spotify with out being on a number of gadgets, no longer simply one $349 speaker. “Apple’s choice to make Apple Music to be had on Echo has little to not anything to do with how HomePod gross sales are trending,” writes Above Avalon’s Neil Cybart in a analysis notice Monday. “Instead, it has the whole thing to do with Apple Music.” Cybart says that if strict platform lock-in was once ever essential to Apple’s track technique it by no means would have made its track carrier paintings on Android and Windows.
Quid professional quo
Apple’s choice may well be based totally on nonetheless different elements. Stratechery’s Ben Thompson, writing in a analysis notice over the weekend, proposed that Apple Music-on-Echo was once the results of a trade-off between Apple and Amazon. Recall that a couple of weeks in the past Apple introduced that it will, for the primary time, be at once promoting iPhones on the Amazon market (resellers can nonetheless promote the gadgets, however they’ll all should be licensed through Apple). Thompson proposes that that’s one thing Apple sought after, whilst Amazon sought after for Apple Music to be to be had on its Echo gadgets (Above Avalon’s Cybart is of the same opinion with this research).
Thompson likened the association to any other deal between the two tech giants. Up till final 12 months, Apple had sought after to promote its Apple TV field on Amazon. Meanwhile Amazon sought after to get its Prime Video streaming app onto Apple TV. Both issues in the end took place, the plain results of any other calculated quid professional quo association.
Whether it was once Apple or Amazon that sought after Apple Music on the Echo, it does look like a smart decision for Apple while you peel again the layers. The easy reality is that Amazon is promoting the sh*t out of low cost Echo audio system, and will most probably promote an entire lot extra throughout this vacation season. Confronted with that reality (and, most probably, disappointing HomePod gross sales) Cybart issues out that Apple had three possible choices–do not anything and cede the track subscriptions for Echo homeowners to Amazon or Spotify, or free up a miles more cost effective HomePod, or make Apple Music paintings on Echo. Since Apple must sacrifice numerous taste issues and sound high quality to promote an affordable HomePod, that turns out not likely. Better to let others have the price range good speaker marketplace, and promote one of your key services and products thru the ones gadgets.
Startling although the inside track is to start with blush, Apple Music turning into Alexa-friendly is but any other signal that Apple cares about its greater services and products trade. “Apple is beginning to prioritize services and products over hardware which I consider is a smart decision for the corporate,” says Moor Insights & Strategy idea Patrick Moorhead. “Apple wishes enlargement and at this juncture, monetizing the bottom with services and products is a greater guess than a brand new hardware class.”
Actually, in my mother’s case, Amazon will get advantages simply up to Apple. Now that she will be able to pay attention to her liked Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck in the lounge, I’m more than likely going to wish to improve her to the enhanced audio of the $150 Echo Plus.