Thursday, September 13, 2012

Apple announces new iTunes, stays mum on streaming plans, at yesterday's iPhone 5 event

Paul Maloney
During the big iPhone 5 announcement yesterday, Apple also revealed it will soon launch abrand new version of its industry-leading media software iTunes. The new version will reportedly feature "a more intuitive layout, improved performance, easier playlist creation, a new full-library search and improved iCloud integration," reports AllThingsDigital (here). "Also new to the software: A completely redesigned mini-player that’s even less intrusive than the previous version, and boasts its own built-in search function." The new iTunes will be available next month.
[Apple even showcased the FM tuner in the iPod Nano, and announced updated "Live Pause" and iTunes tagging features. More on FM on the Nano below.]
What Apple didn't talk about yesterday was its rumored move into online music streaming (see RAIN here). thinks it simply isn't the time yet. "Before (Apple subscription streaming) goes live... two things will likely need to happen: (1) Streaming rivals must prove that there is a meaningful enough business opportunity in subscription to draw Apple out; and (2) iTunes Store’s track download business must plateau or begin shrinking, pushing it to discover new pastures," wrote PaidContent. "Such a move, when it happens, will redefine the industry forever – but Apple, and music, can afford to wait." Read more here.
So says the Music Industry Blog. "If Apple were to get into the music subscription game that it could drive it to the mainstream," writes Mark Mulligan (here). But, "Apple’s core responsibility is ensuring that the music experience of its iOS device owners is as good as it can be, not to break into new market segments for the sake of it... It is probably time to stop waiting for Apple to drive another new digital music paradigm and instead bank on it continuing to innovate prudently."
Additionally, Ethan Kaplan (here) writes, "when Apple goes subscription streaming it won’t be a surprise. And it is inevitable... The issue is that releasing (an Apple streaming product) at this point does two things: eliminates what is to them a high margin business, and effectively kills the recorded music business by slaughtering mechanical revenue from retail."
Back to Apple's mention of its FM tuner in the iPod Nano: Jacobs Media Director of Digital Tim Davis wrote (here), "Even in the midst of one the most anticipated technology announcements of the year from the most valued company in the world, FM radio still managed to snag a special guest role as part of Apple’s revamped lineup. With devices that were for all practical purposes intended to replace traditional radio among consumers, FM radio is not only included in these iPod Nanos, but is also showcased as a featured benefit."

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