There was a big surprise last week when Amazon announced that Apple Music will be coming to its range of Echo smart speakers. While you can AirPlay Apple Music to a range of speakers, using a voice command to instruct a speaker to play from the Cupertino company’s streaming music service has so far been exclusive to HomePod.
The reasoning appears to be that Apple Music subscriptions are worth more to Apple than the revenue from the HomePod hardware. And that same reasoning could apply more widely …
Macworld’s Jason Snell asks whether Apple’s upcoming television service might also be playable on third-party hardware?
If Apple Music is on Amazon Echo, the HomePod no longer holds its exclusivity as a voice-driven home speaker with Apple Music playback. Apple has often used exclusivity to drive hardware sales, which is one reason why you can’t watch iTunes purchases on Amazon Fire TV or Roku devices. Now the HomePod needs to compete as a high-end premium speaker, rather than as literally the only option if you want to give voice commands to an Apple Music-enabled smart speaker.
This is a move that could have huge ramifications for Apple’s forthcoming TV service […] Picture the TV app on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
In one step, Apple would be bringing its ecosystem—not just the future Apple video service, but iTunes movie and TV rentals and purchases, and possibly other video services resold by Apple—to the most popular TV streaming boxes out there. The Apple TV, like the HomePod, would be forced to compete as high-margin “premium” hardware—but Apple’s subscription services and a la carte video sales would now be available to a massive audience.
To me, that’s a solid argument.
Apple’s most important hardware product may have hit ‘peak iPhone’ on a purely temporary basis, but there’s no denying that services revenue is increasingly important to the company. With people holding onto devices for longer than ever before, recurring monthly income becomes increasingly attractive to the company.
It would be pretty dramatic for Apple to allow people to subscribe to an Apple television service without buying Apple hardware on which to view it. But it was pretty dramatic for Apple to allow Apple Music to be accessed directly from Amazon speakers. Or on Android devices before it. I agree with Snell that this may very well happen; let us know your own view in the comments.