By now just about everyone knows about ostentatious headphone maker Beats - if you haven't seen them shilled by hip-hop stars and football players, you've seen them in custom-made corner displays at Best Buy. The company has also technically been a part of Apple since May of last year, presumably because a gold iPhone 6 just isn't complete without a matching pair of Champagne Studio Wireless headphones. But a more interesting question to ask is this: what will happen to Beats Music, the multi-platform streaming service that competes with the likes of Spotify?
Over at 9to5Mac, Mark Gurman has at least a possible answer. According to the report (which cites "multiple sources within Apple and the music industry," all anonymous), Apple will essentially replace Beats Music with an app and service created entirely in-house. The new service, currently unnamed, would resemble the offerings of Google and Amazon: unlimited song-by-song streaming, radio options, the ability to upload personal music libraries, easy sharing to social networks. While the new app will reportedly have most of the curated features of the current Beats service, plus whatever licensed music Apple can add to it, it will be completely redesigned from the ground up to reflect Apple's user interface. Current Apple software, like the Music app on iOS and iTunes on Macs and Apple TV, will be updated with deep integration to the new service.
All that is nice, but not exactly relevant to Android users (unless they're also Mac or iOS users, which isn't uncommon). But according to Gurman, Apple has no intention of abandoning the Android market, which Beats has been competing in since it launched just over a year ago. The report says that Apple's software engineers are even now working on the company's very first Android app, presumably to be released on the Google Play Store to compete with the rest of the streaming music players. While Google has released over a dozen iOS apps for iPhone and iPad users to access its various web services, including Google Play Music, Apple has yet to release a single piece of software for Android. In fact Apple rarely mentions Android at all, aside from derisive comparisons at the company's press conferences and earnings calls.
But perhaps the lure of Beats' current userbase, not to mention about a billion potential customers and extra value for existing iOS/Mac/Android crossover users, is just too much to resist. Gurman guesses that the new Apple-branded Beats Music replacement should be ready sometime this summer, possibly at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference in June. As always with unverified reports, consider this a rumor until something more concrete appears.