Thursday, 5 May 2016

Apple Music May Undergo Major Changes Amidst Stagnant Growth, Could be Unveiled in WWDC

Apple Music might be getting a complete overhaul after almost a year of nearly bad performance in the market and executives left their posts in the Beats-powered streaming service.

Image by Vrinda Rajanahally [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Cupertino-based company has introduced the music streaming service in June 2015. It was met with mixed reviews but users don't seem to be happy with the service now.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is reportedly planning to make several major changes to their Apple Music in order to adapt with the times and to address some of the problems the service might have. When it launched, more than 11 million users have signed up for the service because there was a free trial.

However, almost half of those users who signed up have canceled before they were going to be charged the monthly fee of $10. It means that almost half of the users were not satisfied with what the service offered. Apple Music was said to have a cluttered interface which confused most users, the upgrades were also mixed up with how iTunes libraries were stored and executives supposedly keeping an eye on the service have left the Cupertino-based company.

People familiar with the upcoming plans told Bloomberg that Apple is planning to overhaul the streaming music service by integrating it with their other download-based businesses. They are also reportedly planning to expand the 24/7 Beats One radio service that Apple has been boasting about since day one.

All of the plans are expected to be unveiled and explained with more details at their upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference to be held in June. Apple is expected to be more aggressive in their marketing campaign for the monthly $10 fee for Apple Music, which means that the company is not planning for a price deduction.

As Apple's iPhone sales dipped for the first time, it might be a good idea for the Cupertino-based company to expand their sources of income and revenue. Apple Music does have the potential to be a large income maker for the company but the streaming market is already dominated by other services such as Spotify and Tidal. Critics have even said that the service is not up to the standards of what Apple has been providing their customers in the past. They might have changed something in the history of music when they launched their iTunes service but Apple Music did not seem to have the intended effect the company expected.

Spotify continues to increase their number of users and they are staying at the top of the market even if not all of their users are subscribed to their premium service. Besides Spotify, there are also a number of free streaming services online which can be a great alternative to paid services. BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said: "When it comes to software, Apple performs with less elegance than it does when it comes to hardware. “Apple Music is underwhelming. They have subscribers because of their platform. If you have that kind of subscriber base, you should have millions of subscribers."

Another confusing bit was that Apple already had iTunes. The difference was that those who wanted to stream were pushed towards Apple Music and not the former. Juggling two music services at a time does not really seem wise considering that the streaming market is already filled with great alternatives.

People familiar with Apple's finances have also told Bloomberg that their iTunes service still generated $3.5 billion despite the introduction of Apple Music, which has not really made much of a difference with the company's revenue. The $10 price tag might be too expensive considering that Spotify charges $14.99 for two users per month.

Beats executives have left Apple which may have staggered the development or improvement of their music streaming service. Ian Rogers, the chief executive of Beats Music, has left the company in August. Product Head Ryan Walsh, VP for Engineering Bobby Gaza, Chief Designer Ryan Goodman and Senior Visual Designer Jackie Ngo also left the company. Apple has also forced other engineers to move on to other products such as their App Store and iBooks service.

Apple employees, engineers and executives have declined to comment as to why they left the company after Apple Music started. One reason could be creative differences in how the service should have been developed. Apple Music may need a lot of changes in order to become on par with their competitors. One of the most criticized parts of the service is the user interface.

The UI of Apple Music seems to be cluttered and full of options to tap on. While that may seem like a good thing, it does not translate well for smartphones with smaller screens. Apple could make the UI simpler, according to The Guardian.

Apple Music also has their Beats One radio station that is online for 24 hours a day and seven days a week. However, it can become stagnant if that is the only station users can listen to. Spotify's free ad-supported service also brings in money for the company. Apple Music could do the same and it could even lead to an increase in the number of their users.

Advertisements during the streaming experience does not seem to bother most people. The ads mostly run just a couple of seconds long compared to the minutes of free music users can listen to. Apple could also develop a standalone Apple Music application for desktop and a separate web client as well. Users who want to listen to the service on their computers need to install and run the iTunes software.

Spotify has seen success in both their mobile and desktop experience. Users can just log in their account to access the application or the web client if they do not have it installed. Marketing could also play a big role for the service. Simply pestering people to pay for the $10 per month fee may not work, however. Apple could roll out promos and services to lure customers into paying for the service. They could set out discounts or limited-time offers to attract more users.

All of the details of the iPhone-maker's plans could be revealed at the company's WWDC 2016. Apple Music can still be a great option if they have the right features.

Author: Lord Marin