Apple Music nets 6.5M paid users. Can it convince you to pay for music? (+video)

21 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple CEO Tim Cook says no to NSA accessing user data.

On Tuesday, Apple announced that it has 15 million total users and 6.5 million paid users on Apple Music, the music-streaming service it launched over the summer. Although it’s been more than two years since Edward Snowden exposed the National Security Agency’s data snooping, U.S. officials and tech executives are still grappling with balancing national security and privacy. The topic came up yet again on Monday night at the Wall Street Journal’s technology conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. where Apple CEO Tim Cook followed NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers on stage.

They shared contrasting views about a number of hot button issues around privacy, which have created a deep divide between Silicon Valley and the nation’s security apparatus. Apple Music launched with a three-month free trial offer, a move aimed at showing the curious iwhat Apple Music offered over more established streaming sites. And should companies be allowed to encrypt user data so that agencies that do gain access see only gibberish? “You’re saying, ‘They’re good, so it’s okay for them to know,’” he added about the government’s argument. “But that’s not the state of today. That’s not bad for a brand new streaming music service that is taking on a giant field of strong incumbents that includes Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, Google, and a sea of other contenders.

If someone can get into data, it is subject to great abuse.” The federal government routinely asks large companies like Apple AAPL 1.83% for user data and cooperation in national security investigations. Apple Music’s success is particularly impressive, considering the mixed reviews that Apple Music has received, particularly when compared with Spotify. “This is completely at odds with the feedback that the service has received where Spotify offers a better experience with a much richer feature set at the same price,” noted Richard Windsor, analyst at Edison Investment Research.

Apple Music automatically appears on the home screens of customers who have recently purchased new iPhones or iPads – or upgraded to the new iOS 9 software. Cook’s sensitivity on the subject likely goes back to 2013, when Apple was accused of working with the NSA to provide backdoor access to its customers through hidden software on its iPhone handsets.

Sure, other streaming services like Google Play Music or 8tracks will link to iTunes, but browsing, buying, and streaming are all the simpler if you’re already in an Apple product. The new iPhone 6 and 6s sold a record-breaking 13 million models in its opening weekend alone, in what Wired Magazine called “an autumn tradition for Apple.” And despite its lack of social sharing options – something Spotify has mastered – perks like offline downloads, easy syncing, ordering Siri to play you your favorite song (or introduce you to something new), and, need we mention again, Taylor Swift will likely help Apple catch up, despite being “late to the game.” The groundbreaking company that turned Napster from household name into “do-you-remember,” in the words of Bloomberg’s Stephen Pulvirent, seems determined to retake the digital music world that they more or less invented. The NSA’s Rogers argued that all parties involved should find a way for the agency to collect intelligence that keeps everyone safe — and to do so within boundaries the country, as a whole, is comfortable with. “Strong encryption is in our nation’s best interest,” he said, before quickly clarifying he means strong, not full encryption of email and 0nline files.

Meanwhile, all the commotion has left some music lovers missing the good old days of actually owning, loving, and listening to music whenever they pleased, without sorting through endless ‘customized’ playlists. “I used to listen to my Aretha [Franklin] albums a lot, but only when I was in a particular mood. Rogers spent a great deal of time encouraging greater collaboration between Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley in developing better technology and strengthening online security. When probed by Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker on whether a compromise could be reached, Cook interrupted: “You’re making an assumption, I think you’re going off the deep end with your assumption… I think it’s not so simple.

Gerry, I think we would all agree that if there was a way to expose only bad people, whoever the determiner of what bad is, that would be a great thing. But this is not the world.” Still, the only point both Rogers and Cook could agree on, is that neither security nor privacy should be compromised. “No one should have to decide, privacy or security, we should be smart enough to do both,” Cook said.

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