The streaming wars sequel
18 October 2021-
Apple has just unveiled a new music streaming plan that is the cheapest on the market — only there is a catch: you gotta use Siri to access it... How will this end?
An Apple event is very much like a new hip hop release: you hear about it days in advance — if you’re lucky, it’s shrouded in secrecy, and half the world is just there waiting for D Day to arrive. Well, when we say ‘hip hop release’, we don’t mean Kanye‘s, because those take months to get out. Also, his name is not Kanye anymore: he legally changed it to “Ye”. No last name. What a big day in music history…
But back to Apple. Today’s event, tagline “Unleashed”, was a bit of a surprise. As it happens, people were expecting to hear about new laptops, possibly new earbuds, but nothing directly music-related. That’s where people got it wrong. Well, not entirely: there were news regarding laptops and earbuds (read them on your own, they’re easy to find), but also regarding music. Pretty big news, in fact: the company just announced a new Apple Music subscription plan for 4,99 $/month, i.e. about half of what other companies are offering. That’s major.
But there’s a bit of a catch: this new option, entitled “Voice Plan”, only works through Siri. That’s right: to even get it to start, you have to ask Siri. This makes it a personal plan, and you don’t have access to HD audio content while you’re on it. Which is OK: even those new earbuds do not necessarily require lossless tracks. And there are 90 million songs to choose from anyway, lossless or not. And then there are playlists, stations and the whole shebang. Pretty neat.
So, back to our original question: how will this little experiment end, you (might) ask us? That’s a fair question: the price point is indeed attractive enough, and people love their Siri. But the truth is, this new “tier” — as they call it — feels a little more prompted by an astute product integration strategy rather than a deliberate music-first approach. In other words, Apple is using its music as bait for us to delve into their ecosystem just a tad more — if we haven’t already done so (note: this article is being written on a MacBook Pro with an iPhone lying next to it).
Which is fine: we don’t mind delving…