One peculiarity in Apple's purchase of Beats for $3 billion, announced earlier today: Beats still makes apps for Android and Windows Phone, two of Apple's rival platforms.The deal between the companies has yet to close, but that immediately left a very serious question about the future of the service anywhere besides Apple devices.
Now Apple says Beats Music will live on, at least for now. In an interview with the Financial Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that apps on both platforms would remain, saying "It's all about the music."
The move is a marked change for Apple, which has a long history of shutting down the services of companies it's purchased — often sooner if they're available to rivals — and now Beats may prove to be a rare exception. The subscription version of Beats will live on as a high-end to the company's free iTunes Radio service, and Apple will also continue to sell the Beats hardware, including speakers and headphones in its stores.
"It's all about the music."
Other companies have not been so lucky after being snapped up by Apple. Lala, an online music service Apple bought near the end of 2009, was closed just a few months later. A spiritual successor of Lala's technology, which allowed users free online access to music they owned, ended up a part of iTunes Match a year later. There was also Chomp, a search and discovery tool for apps that Apple bought in early 2012, and shuttered just eight months later. But even before that, Apple shut down the Android version.
That same ethos of iOS only may not be in Cook's playbook, or at least he's said as much. In an interview last May, Cook said he was open to the idea of creating an Android app, or offering services like iCloud on other platforms — as long as it made sense. Short of actually endorsing such a plan, he said "We have no religious issue with doing that. If we thought it made sense for us to do that, we would do that."
For Apple and Beats though, keeping things the way they are is a clear long-term conundrum. While services like Beats can benefit off a higher number of subscribers (something that's aided by being on as many platforms as possible), Apple also just bought it as a strategic move. There are a number of streaming music services out there like Spotify and Rdio, but Cook has now said Beats is "coming up with ways of features that blow your mind." But will Android and Windows Phone users get them too?