updated 10:01 am EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
Claims best products in 25 years due in 2014
Speaking yesterday at the Code Conference, Apple's senior VP of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue -- joined by Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- offered an explanation of the company's $3 billion buyout of Beats, and also discussed Apple's upcoming product pipeline. He noted that a deal for Beats and/or the people behind it has been in development for a decade, and that together the two companies should be able to speed up products that are being kept secret.
Cue mentions that Apple sold its 35 billionth song through iTunes last week, and that there are now over 40 million iTunes Radio users. He says that Apple intends to keep Beats Music as a separate brand, but that the company has been thinking about subscription-based streaming for some time, which may imply an upgrade to iTunes Radio. Beats Music should even continue to be available on Android and Windows Phone, at least for the foreseeable future.
Iovine remarked that Beats Music has surpassed 250,000 subscribers, and that the number would probably be higher if it had integrated in-app subscription purchases from the beginning. He was separately critical of the earbuds that come with most phones, joking that they're only included to make sure the sound works. Cue defended the EarPods that come with every iPhone by insisting they have some of the best sound for bundled headphones, even if making "incredible sound" costs more money.
One hint at Apple's possible plans for the Beats hardware division came when Cue was asked about the iPod HiFi, Apple's aborted entry into the stereo market. He explained that while it wasn't a good idea at the time, it is now. He was vague about the company's 2014 product pipeline, but claimed that "we've got the best product pipeline that I've seen in my 25 years at Apple."
Discussion turned to the Apple TV, which Cue explains will "evolve" this year. While he was mainly referring to continued content expansion, he also commented that "the TV experience sucks," and that devices like the DVR are just "glorified VCRs." Cue dodged questions about Apple's exact intentions, but did say that TV should be more accessible, using the example of wanting to watch a TV show on an iPad but it often being difficult to do, or in some countries, blocked entirely.
A fundamental obstacle is said to be the "complicated landscape" of the TV industry. Rights are allegedly much harder to manage because of the number of parties involved, as opposed to music, which is comparatively straightforward. Apple has been rumored as wanting to launch advanced TV services for years, but has been mired in negotiations all that time.