WWDC 2015: Apple is Catching Up with Music and Software Competition
Apple Inc held its annual Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote June 8, unveiling a bevy of new software updates. In this article, Euromonitor International examines the most important announcements to come out of WWDC 2015.
OS X El Capitan
Apple broke from tradition in 2013 when it offered OS X Mavericks as a free upgrade to any user of OS X, instead opting for a system of annual free upgrades. The recent announcement by Microsoft Corp that the upcoming Windows 10 release would be available as a free upgrade to existing Windows users is an indication that paying for each operating system version is a thing of the past, at least for retail consumers. El Capitan– the latest OS X release continues on Apple’s approach of making incremental performance and interface tweaks on an annual basis to keep the operating system current.
When Apple introduced its own proprietary mapping app in 2012 it was criticized by many for its lack of a transit mapping feature. Apple has been rumoured to be investing heavily in improving maps in recent years, and the updates to Apple Maps in iOS 9 show the results of some of these efforts. Apple announced support for transit directions for selected cities, including 300 cities in China – a part of Apple’s larger expansion push in the country.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus proved to be massively successful. With iOS 9 Apple developed a multitasking service that allows users to resize two apps and provides support for picture in picture video viewing on iPad models. This move, and recent moves to develop enterprise software in partnership with IBM, is seen by many as a precursor to the launch of a rumoured larger screen iPad.
When Apple acquired Beats Music and Beats Electronics in 2014 it was believed that Cupertino was planning to enter the music streaming business. WWDC 2015 brought this plan to fruition as Apple announced Apple Music, its answer to streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. The US$9.99 per month service will be offered as a free three-month trial starting in late June and represents a major addition to Apple’s existing iTunes store. In addition to allowing subscribers to stream any song in the Apple catalogue, the service draws heavily from its Beats Music roots through promotion of human-curated playlists and is accompanied by a global radio station dubbed Beats 1.
No Apple TV
The debut of Apple’s music-streaming service is the latest evidence that Apple has no qualms about taking an increasing role as a content provider. The recent launch of HBO Now and upcoming launch of a Showtime streaming service across the Apple ecosystem is the likely vanguard of a long rumoured Apple television service. Apple is expected to launch a slimmed down television package that would compete with other services, such as Dish Network’s Sling TV. Consumers will have to wait however, as Apple refrained from any comment on such a package or the potential of an update to its Apple TV platform.
Playing Catch Up
Apple’s entrance to music streaming at WWDC 2015 is an intriguing development that hints at larger ambitions in extending their ecosystem. The absence of an Apple TV refresh and long rumoured television service, however, may be disappointing for some Apple fans. Apple reported US$58 billion for its latest quarter, a 33% increase compared to the same quarter last year. In contrast, HTC only raked in US$1.3 billion for the same quarter. The announcements from Apple ensure its products and services are on par with the competition (Android M, Spotify, multi-tasking, Windows 10). Apple does not need to do anything different to continue its dominance and enhance its popularity amongst consumers