Get the good and avoid the irritating features of streaming music
There are other streaming music services and you can well argue that there are better ones, but Spotify is winning the war to become the Hoover, Biro and iPad of its class: the brand name that somehow becomes synonymous with the idea. At least, nobody tells you what their favourite iTunes Radio station is, no one in the world sends you links to Pandora and it's like few people have heard of Beats. Yet. However, Spotify is known even by normal people and it is a way in to streaming music.
Users can color-coordinate with other Apple devices; other color options still available
Amidst all the hoopla surrounding the Apple Watch pre-orders and try-ons, as well as the availability of the new 12-inch Retina MacBook, Apple's Beats division has announced some new Beats Solo2 wireless headphone models, now available in iPhone/iPad/MacBook-matching Gold, Silver, and Space Gray colors. The new color options do not displace the existing black, blue, white, and red options, but are not available yet for the wired version of the Solo2.
European Commission concerned Apple bullying labels into contracts
The European Union's antitrust agency, the European Commission, has sent out a series of questionnaires to labels and digital music companies. The query is asking for details about deals between Apple and the publishers in advance of the Beats acquisition-driven music service, expected to launch this summer.
First products with Bang & Olufen to appear 'this spring'
HP and Bang & Olufsen today announced a collaboration that brings the sound and engineering of Bang & Olufsen and B&O Play to HP's PCs, tablets and accessories. The move was made necessary by Apple's purchase and cessation of nearly all licensing programs of the Beats brand, previously found on a wide array of HP products.
Beats headphones, iOS devices, MacBook all leaders in their respective categories
A new survey measuring customer loyalty and engagement has picked several categories of Apple products as the best in their field, at least in the minds of consumers. Beats headphones were the top most-liked headphone brand, the combined MacBook lines took best laptop, and the iPhone and iPad unsurprisingly won best smartphone and tablet, respectively. The Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index measures how well a product meets -- or exceeds -- consumer expectations.
UK-based music tastemaker heading to United States for Apple job
Apple will soon be getting more help with its musical ambitions, as it has reportedly hired BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe. The New Zealand-born radio personality, known in the United Kingdom as a tastemaker and helped launch the musical careers of stars including Adele and the Arctic Monkeys, will be quitting the station next month before moving to the United States to work with Apple.
Summer relaunch of Beats expected, perhaps at a lower price point
At this week's Grammy Awards pre-parties, Apple CEO Tim Cook, iTunes Vice President Robert Kondrk, and Beats co-founder and Apple employee Jimmy Iovine held court, meeting with dozens of music label executives. All meetings were held under nondisclosure agreements, but reports circulating after the party claim that a re-launch of the Beats music service under the Apple banner is expected to happen in the spring possibly, with a deadline of a summer launch.
Giant otherwise shows strong financial performance
Beyond its official press release, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its fiscal first quarter. The document is the only one to mention iPad sales, and reveals that shipments dropped 18 percent year-over-year to 21.42 million. Revenues for the tablet fell 22 percent to $9 billion.
Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying
A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.
Original manufacturing, design partner claims Beats mislead on contract severance
Electronics company Monster, known for its high-priced HDMI cables and car audio gear, has filed suit against now-Apple-owned Beats and its founders, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, as well as former Beats partner HTC, claiming that Beats and HTC misled the company when it bought back enough shares of itself through the HTC investment to sever its contract for headphone partnership with Monster. The lawsuit does not directly involve Apple, but does revolve around the possibility that Beats knew when it left Monster that it was going to be acquired.
Looks to copy success of Beyoncé album launch on iTunes
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine -- whose company is now owned by Apple -- is in negotiations with a number of artists about securing more exclusives for Beats Music, sources claim. The idea is reportedly to copy the success Beyoncé and Apple had with an iTunes exclusive, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, in December of last year. Iovine is known for his connections in the music industry, which include acts like Will.i.am, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, and Gwen Stefani; Minaj sometimes advertises Beats products via placements in her videos. A potential obstacle, though, is opposition from record labels, which typically don't like artists signing their own side deals.
Mysterious dispute resulted in Bose products taken off store shelves
A French enthusiast site has reported, citing anonymous sources, that Apple will soon return Bose products back to the shelves of the iPhone maker's brick-and-mortar Apple Stores following a two-month fallout in which Bose products were removed. The move was originally thought to be in response to a lawsuit Bose filed against Beats, its rival in headphones, or possibly a unilateral move by Apple to reduce competing products in its stores now that it owns Beats, but the truth of the matter has yet to emerge.
Argued Beats could 'plug' Apple's 'hole in music'
Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine actively chased after this year's $3 billion acquisition by Apple, a new GQ interview reveals. Iovine explains that Apple was the only company he wanted to work for, and that his argument to Apple executives was that Beats would fill a critical gap. "I know you have a hole in music right now; let me plug it," he said. The pursuit is said to have taken about two years.
Service likely to be rebranded under iTunes name
Apple is planning to bundle Beats Music as a native iOS app early next year, sources tell the Financial Times. The shift is expected to happen in the form of a firmware update, that could debut as soon as March. The Times has little other information, but argues that it's likely Apple will rebrand the service under the iTunes moniker, as other reports have suggested.
Clerks expected to ditch lanyards
Apple is planning some minor changes at its retail stores in preparation for the holiday season, sources say. One of these includes dressing clerks in red holiday shirts. A permanent adjustment, though, will involve removing neck lanyards from the standard uniform; to compensate for the lack of ID, clerks will reportedly be asked to introduce themselves more often.
On-cup controls handle playback, calls
Apple-owned Beats has announced the Solo2 Wireless, a new pair of over-the-ear headphones. The unit is based on the original Solo2 headphones released earlier this year, but sports Bluetooth for pairing with devices up to 30 feet away. Buttons on the ear cups let users control volume and playback, and even answer phone calls.
Location could include store, office space
Apple has leased a major portion of the Broadway Trade Center in downtown Los Angeles, a new rumor claims. The building measures 1.1 million square feet, and currently has several shops on the ground floor and a manufacturer above. Apple has allegedly signed a lease for "several hundred thousand" square feet; the rumor, from an anonymous source, further suggests that Apple may turn the building into miniature campus with offices, residences, and an Apple Store. A portion of the campus might even be dedicated to selling Beats products.
In-flight Beats service includes The Sentence personalization
Passengers of Southwest Airlines will soon be offered access to Beats Music during their flight, as an alternative to in-flight radio and other entertainment options. The airline will be providing music via the streaming service on its Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft starting from today, with passengers able to access a personalized playlist to listen to throughout their flight at no extra charge.
Said to be related to role on Beats Music
Trent Reznor -- the Nine Inch Nails frontman and one-time chief creative officer at Beats -- says he is "fully in it right now" on an unannounced music project for Apple and Beats. While he is unwilling to go into much detail, in a new interview, he says his work is "related" to his role with Beats Music. "Beats was bought by Apple, and they expressed direct interest in me designing some products with them," the musician notes. "I can't go into details, but I feel like I'm in a unique position where I could be of benefit to them. That does mean some compromises in terms of how much brain power goes toward music and creating. This is very creative work that's not directly making music, but it's around music."
Company claims discount could attract more subscribers
In preparation for relaunching Beats Music next year, Apple is currently pushing record labels to allow lowering monthly subscription fees from $10 to $5, sources say. The company's marketing pitch, allegedly, is that even Apple's best iTunes customers typically spend an average of $60 per year, or $5 per month. As such, anyone switching from downloads to streaming would generate an equal amount of revenue -- and more importantly, the potential subscriber pool would increase thanks to more affordable fees.
Publicity from ban, player fine makes Beats 'look like the underdog,' co-founder says
Speaking at the University of California's "Global Conversation" conference on Wednesday, Beats co-founder and Apple executive Jimmy Iovine offered his spin on the recent NFL deal with rival Bose to make the latter's headphones the "official" brand of the football league, and the fact that many players seem to prefer the Beats brand. He told the audience that players, both under contract to endorse Beats and not, have taken to taping over the Beats logo on their own pairs rather than wear the endorsed brand.
Plan only pegged for 'the near future'
Authorized Apple service providers -- and presumably Apple itself -- will soon start servicing Beats speakers and headphones, according to a memo to providers obtained by a Greek website. The message states that "in the near future, Apple will be responsible for providing service" for Beats products. The company adds that it is now sending out contract addendums, and will publish articles explaining the exact processes for handling Beats gear.
Could theoretically bring Bose products back to Apple Stores
Bose has settled its lawsuit against Apple-owned Beats Electronics, filed in July over patents connected to noise cancellation technology, says Bloomberg. The companies have submitted joint filings to a Delaware court, and asked the US International Trade Commission to halt an investigation. Had Bose's original demands been met, imports of Beats' Studio and Studio Wireless headphones would've been blocked. The terms of the settlement are unknown.
Beats acquisition may be to blame
(Updated with references to Bose/Beats lawsuit) Apple is preparing to pull all of Bose's audio products from its stores, according to sources for MacRumors and MacNN. The MacRumors source says that the inventory change is due to start next week, and that workers will get instructions in the next few days. Commenting on the claim, the MacNN source suggests that it's likely true and "falls in line with a shelving reorganization for Christmas that we've already seen that's got nothing from Bose on it."
League has signed exclusive deal with Bose that covers post-game and interview endorsements
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been fined $10,000 by the NFL for breaking a league rule about wearing unsponsored products when conducting interviews within 90 minutes following a game. Kaepernick was wearing a pair of pink Beats headphones -- which he later tweeted was in support of breast cancer awareness -- during a press conference following a game with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The NFL signed an exclusive deal with Bose back in March, and only that brand of headphones are supposed to be seen.
Bose granted rights to prevent other headphone use, NFL defends practice
Apple-owned designer headphone brand Beats by Dre is taking another hit in the professional sports arena. It was uncovered that a recent deal between Bose and the National Football League (NFL) will ban other headphones on game days as a part of the exclusive league sponsorship. While the ban is in effect for all other headphone manufacturers, Beats argues that its headphones are important to players.
Steven Lamar said to have exaggerated association to boost new venture
According to new court filings, Apple-owned Beats is suing Roam and Jibe Audio founder Steven Lamar for false advertisements and unfair competition after Lamar posted numerous times on social media and his own company's website that he was a "co-founder" of Beats alongside Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. While Lamar does have a legitimate connection to the headphone maker, and collects a royalty on certain models of Beats headphones, Beats says in its filing that Lamar has "never had any ownership interest" in the audio products company.
Timing could coincide with Grammy Awards
Apple could announce a new, rebranded version of Beats Music in February, according to "industry scuttlebutt" heard by Re/code's John Paczkowski. No other information has leaked, but it's speculated that the switch may happen in parallel with the Grammy Awards, which are being held February 8. The event could theoretically serve as a marketing springboard for a new service.
Apple plans for platform's tech still unknown
[Updated with Apple denial] Despite recent efforts to promote the streaming service, Apple is planning to discontinue Beats Music, sources within Apple and Beats say. "Many" Beats Music engineers have reportedly been diverted to other projects, such as iTunes. The sources have no insight on what Apple plans to do with the service's technology.
Will eventually support iCloud Photo Library
Accompanying iOS 8 today is updated firmware for the Apple TV. Immediately visible are new cosmetic touches, namely thinner fonts and "flatter" app icons. It also includes some feature additions, such as a Beats Music channel, making it possible to listen to the subscription service Apple acquired earlier this year.
Total may be artificially inflated
U2's Songs of Innocence album -- which Apple is currently giving away for free via iTunes -- has already been downloaded over two million times since Tuesday, sources say. The group's back catalog appears to be doing well as well, with 17 albums on the iTunes Top 100 chart, led by The Joshua Tree at number 12.
Participants must sign up for Beats account
Apple-owned Beats Music has launched a US contest to promote itself and next month's iTunes Festival in London. The #GoWithMe promotion offers 25 winners a chance to take a friend to see one of five concerts. Options include Kiesza, Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams/Jungle, Maroon 5/Matthew Koma, or Ed Sheeran/Foy Vance.
First-gen iPad minis on clearance in anticipation of new models
Target stores in the US and its online store are now offering first-generation iPad minis at clearance prices, selling the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only model for $199 -- a price that is lower or equal to most competing (but smaller) seven-inch tablets, such as the Kindle HDX or Google's Nexus 7. The price is $100 lower than the normal retail price in all configurations, and $20 below Apple's own price for its refurbished model. The sale also offers $50 off the price of the iPad Air in all configurations. The promotion is good for "this week only," and is based on limited amounts of stock, according to the Target website.
Music service works its way into Apple ecosystem
Beats Music is now being promoted as one of the "Best New Apps" in the App Store, even though the title has actually been available since January and was last updated July 28th. It is also included in the Apps Made by Apple section linked at the bottom of the App Store. Earlier this week, Apple began highlighting Beats Music in the list of apps recommended to new iOS users.
Beats Music "Listen Now" feature rolling out for Shazam on iOS
The iOS version of Shazam has begun to roll out a new "Listen Now" feature from Beats Music. The music streaming service integration allows users to tag a song with Shazam, and then immediately play it in Beats Music. A subscription is required to Beats Music to utilize this new feature, however a 14-day free trial of the service is available.
Title appears as official Apple app
People setting up an iOS 7 device for the first time are now seeing Beats Music among the list of recommended Apple apps, according to anecdotes. The App Store splash page is otherwise full of titles like iBooks, Podcasts, Find My iPhone, and the iWork suite. Notably Beats Music is the only one to require payments, since it's based on monthly subscription plans.
Workers say institution is 'meticulously planned'
Citing three people who have attended the school, the New York Times has published a profile of Apple University, the institution used to indoctrinate workers into Apple's corporate culture. The dean of the school is Joel Podolny, who took over full-time in February. The school is reportedly "meticulously planned, with polished presentations and a gleaming veneer that masks a great deal of effort;" one worker comments that "even the toilet paper in the bathrooms is really nice." Classrooms are described as well-lit and trapezoid-shaped, with stadium seating so that everyone has a clear field of view. In some cases, though, teachers travel outside the US to present lectures.
Beats brand may be set to live on separately
Apple has added a specific Beats by Dr. Dre section to the online Apple store, shoppers note. The page has its own tab under the Accessories section. Apple has sold Beats headphones and speakers for some time, but since the latter's acquisition, it has begun highlighting the products both online and at retail.
Features Beats Pill speakers, Siri in jokey self-congratulatory message
A brief video has been posted by new Apple employee Dr. Dre on the Beats Twitter account that both celebrates and pokes fun at the union of the two companies. The video, which features animated versions of the Beats Pill speakers and the disembodied voice of Siri, will remind some of the "talking car" Chevron advertisements done by Aardman Animation, makers of Wallace & Gromit in its style of animation and light humor between "Mikey" and "Tina."
Executive will straddle both music services
Beats Music head Ian Rogers will also take charge of iTunes Radio as a part of Apple's acquisition of Beats, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The people add that having Rogers in charge of both units is intended to generate cohesion in Apple's streaming music options. How exactly that might manifest is unclear, but the Journal speculates that Apple may implement new subscription options.
Some terminations may wait up to a year
Although layoffs may be coming, no one at Beats has lost their job yet as a result of Apple's takeover, a source tells Billboard. "Every single person is going through Apple orientation, they're signing up for healthcare," the person comments, noting that everyone has been offered a full-time job at Apple, although as confirmed by the company some people are only being offered work for a limited time. Specifically, the source says that these people could lose their jobs in anywhere from three months to a year. Five people have reportedly been fired in "performance-based terminations."
Acquisition proceeds while still waiting for final US approval
(Updated with Apple welcoming page) Vivendi's Universal Music Group has completed a sale of its 13 percent stake in Beats to Apple, in a deal worth $404 million, according to an official statement. The company hasn't released any other details. In all, Apple is paying about $3 billion to acquire Beats.
Some may still find work at Apple
Apple has confirmed reports of job losses at Beats as a part of its $3 billion acquisition. "We're excited to have the Beats team join Apple, and we have extended job offers to every Beats employee," says Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. "Because of some overlap in our operations, some offers are for a limited period and we'll work hard during this time to find as many of these Beats employees as we can another permanent job within Apple." Sources say that last week, about 200 out of Beats' 700 employees were told that their positions are now temporary, and will be cut within the next few months.
Developers, creative workers being kept
Although the takeover has yet to be fully approved legally, some workers and technology resources are already being shifted from Beats to Apple, sources say. Apple executives have allegedly visited Beats' California headquarters this week and the last, offering some workers new positions at Apple while telling others that their jobs will be cut. Many Beats employees in creative or development roles are being offered work at Apple; many of these are allegedly headed to Apple's Cupertino's headquarters, but the company is keeping both the Santa Monica offices and some engineers associated with Beats Music.
Now offers Tune Your Taste, verified accounts, song history, more
As the process of Beats Music's acquisition by Apple continues, the iOS app for the subscription-based Beats Music service has received an update to both make playback better and more reliable as well as to improve the overall user experience. The new version 2.2.0 gives users the ability to customize the services's "Just For You" recommendations by changing artists and genres with a new feature called Tune Your Taste. In addition to some other changes, Beats reports that it has "fixed a ton of bugs."
Clears major legal obstacle
The European Commission has authorized Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats, according to an official statement. The organization was tasked with scrutinizing any possible antitrust concerns in the deal. In its judgment, the Commission notes that while both Apple and Beats sell headphones in Europe, even their combined marketshare is low, and the companies aren't in close competition. Their headphones are said to "differ markedly in functionality and design."
Apple now on the hook in another patent infringement case
In a court filing discovered today, audio equipment maker Bose is suing headphone rival Beats over noise cancellation headphone technology. Bose claims that Beats has knowingly infringed on "50 years of signficant investment in the research, development, engineering, and design" on the technology, with the Beats lineup for sale now using "36 US patents and applications" that Bose now owns or has filed for.
Beats' Jimmy Iovine said to be important to new marketing efforts
Apple may be on the verge of completely separating from its long-time ad partner, TBWA's Media Arts Lab, says the New York Post. Citing industry rumors, the paper suggests that Apple's entire external advertising account is "up for grabs," and that Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine -- soon to become an executive at Apple, following Beats' acquisition -- will also be used to help revive Apple marketing efforts. "Apple bought Beats for a lot of reasons," comments one anonymous ad agency executive. "They think they're marketing geniuses. It is safe to assume Beats would be part of an assessment of all [Apple] partners."
Case could be worth billions of dollars
Speaker and headphone maker Beats -- currently undergoing an acquisition by Apple -- has filed a lawsuit against a collection of Chinese counterfeiters, asking for billions of dollars in damages. "This action has been filed by Beats to combat online counterfeiters who trade upon Beats' reputation and goodwill by selling and/or offering for sale unlicensed and counterfeit products featuring Beats' trademarks," the complaint reads. "The Defendants create [fake Internet storefronts] by the hundreds or even thousands and design them to appear to be selling genuine Beats products, while actually selling low-quality Counterfeit Beats Products to unknowing consumers."
Could ask for concessions if deal thought to be too anti-competitive
Antitrust regulators with the European Commission will rule by July 30 whether or not Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats can go ahead as planned, according to Reuters. The Commission has several options available: it can authorize the deal as signed, or ask for concessions -- such as divestiture -- if it's determined that the buyout would give Apple too much industry control. In a worst-case scenario, the Commission could launch an investigation that might even scuttle the acquisition.