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APPLE’S PLAY IN WIDER FOCUS
Thinking Beyond the Particulars of iTunes/Beats

When an Apple product or service is on the way, it tends to fuel widespread speculation. But that chatter usually has a narrow focus.

Case in point: this week’s ocean of spilled ink about what the Apple TV remote will look like and do

Chatter about the forthcoming iTunes/Beats reboot (supposedly due at the 6/8 Worldwide Developers Conference), whatever it may be, has been similarly scaled, invariably asking how it will compare to Spotify and other music-streaming services.

But in addition to “Thinking Different,” Apple always thinks big. So it’s important to think about the new service in the context of other developments and refinements on the hardware side—notably Apple TV and the Apple Watch—as we consider the next chapter or two.

Some observers now feel iTunes/Beats will be part of a suite of entertainment-streaming components designed to give Apple the lead not only in the mobile music sphere but everywhere else as well: including the living room and the car.

If you translate Cupertino’s Beats Music proposition—a monthly subscription-streaming model to supplement paid downloads—to the movies, TV shows and games available at the iTunes store, you have not only a Spotify competitor but a Netflix competitor as well.

Now add in the fact that Apple TV already enables users to get a freestanding HBO NOW subscription and NBC. Many more cable and broadcast elements will undoubtedly join the party, which will strengthen Apple’s bid to go after cable providers.

In addition to putting your entertainment addictions into one handy syringe, they'll add your Cloud-stored photos, home videos, work documents and fitness monitors into the mix. 

You can probably also expect a social element that will not only make all this stuff communal but will also let music artists, movie stars and other public figures communicate with the Appleverse.

How much will all that cost? The cable TV model points the way: Tiers to combine all the stuff you want to watch, listen to and play with, with price points to accommodate content and usage preferences. Consider your entire media consumption budget and envision the convenience of having all that stuff in one monthly transaction.

It seems inevitable that Apple will let you synch your phones, watches, iPads and other gizmos (I’m thinking half of you are ready for the brain chip, if it has an “i” in front of its name and an endearing TV commercial) with that entertainment universe, so home and mobile blend seamlessly.

Oh, and you did know Apple’s making a car, right? Yep, so they’re not only going to compete with Toyota, Chevy and Tesla, but they’ll have your Apple entertainment universe seamlessly and cheerfully integrated in their own cars as well as those of their competitors.

So Apple wraps up all of your media, all of your gizmos and all of your consumption environments into its thoughtfully designed content continuum—from your morning commute to your bedtime sitcom, from your Sunday afternoon jogging mix to your Saturday night dance party—and sells it to you with its marketing magic. 

We don't know how much of this mediaverse will be unveiled at next month's WWDC, but it's entirely possible that music will be the canary in the proverbial coal mine.

Sure, they’ll be competing with Spotify. But widen the focus.

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