Steven Levy: With Beats Music service, Apple’s Tim Cook goes against the wisdom of Steve Jobs

“Steve Jobs always hated the idea of music subscriptions,” Steven Levy writes for Wired. “More than once, I tried to convince him that it was the way of the future. But he would mock me, citing the pathetic track record of the companies hawking subscriptions of unlimited music that go away when you stopped paying. People want to own music, he’d insist.”

“I looked forward to the day when Apple would finally announce an iTunes subscription service. I often envisioned the conversation we would have after the Stevenote that unrolled such a product. ‘Uh, Steve,’ I’d say. ‘You always told me Apple would never do a streaming service,'” Levy writes. “He’d smile, not even bothering to be annoyed at my reminder. ‘We finally figured out how to do it right,’ he’d say.”

“Obviously, that conversation never happened. And it’s impossible to say what Steve Jobs would have done had he lived. But as of Wednesday, with the confirmation of its worst kept secret, Apple is indeed doing a streaming music subscription service,” Levy writes. “It’s spending $3 billion to buy Beats, and it intends to keep running the earphone company’s Beats Music service, at least at first. As almost everyone has pointed out, this is a very un-Apple-like acquisition. It’s not as if Apple is gaining any special technology – Beats headphones are widely seen as a triumph of marketing as opposed to groundbreaking acoustic magic – and then you have Steve’s long-held aversion to subscription services. But Steve’s successor, Tim Cook, sees Beats as an ideal fit.”

Much more in the full article – recommended as usual – here.

MacDailyNews Take: What we wrote three weeks ago, we repeat today:

Beats. A triumph of marketing over sound quality.

Hopefully, if the deal goes through, some part of Beats’ Music subscription service will be worth it. — Apple in talks to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billionMacDailyNews Take, May 8, 2014

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46 Comments

  1. I never met Steve Jobs. I have no idea what due diligence Tim Cook and the Apple BOD did before purchasing Beats. Based upon all the critical comments I read in MDN, I am amazed at how sheltered my life has been, because so much of what I read in the comments suggest that many of the posters here either knew Steve, saw all the documentation, or both, and that’s why they are justified in being so critical.

  2. I would have preferred iPod (and iPhone for that matter) to be Mac only. If they did that, then it would have gotten more people to switch over to an Apple ecosystem.

    1. Actually, the opposite may well be true. Someone with a PC buys an iPod. After using it for a while, decides he needs a new computer. Considers a Mac, because he likes his iPod so much and can see the possibilities of better integration.

  3. And Steve said no one would watch video on a small screen. Changed mind. He also reportedly wanted to mimic the iPod wheel fir the iPhone. Changed mind. He changed it a lot or just wanted to confuse us all. So who knows what he would say today. So let’s stop guessing and do what is right

  4. SJ was one of the record owning generation and carried that mindset forward to itunes.

    My 15yr old is an always on internet kid. Music / video whatever, its somewhere on the internet and without paying for it or owning it. This is also true of TV which is never on – unless its X Factor/Pop Idol stuff. when she wants to watch a TV series it is somewhere on the internet. Its just a completely different mindset. And I don’t think Beats is going to monitize that for Apple

  5. “Beats. A triumph of marketing over sound quality.” —MDN

    Truer words were never spoken. Of course, this in itself doesn’t necessarily mean that the Beats acquisition is a bad move. Afterall, it’s not the crappy headphones that Apple is interested in.

  6. Steve Jobs was an incredible visionary, but he was also wrong quite frequently. He was wrong about Sculley, smaller iPads, bigger iPhones, and perhaps streaming music.

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