Apple Music faces a different competitive landscape compared to almost every other major Apple release of the past 15 years.
It’s not defining a new category or market (iPhone, iPad or Apple TV). Nor is it entering an established market characterised by poorly designed rivals (iPod).
Streaming music is already a well-defined category with well-established, well-designed players. Apple’s biggest competitor in the space, Spotify, takes design very seriously indeed:
“Ultimately, our goal is very singular: create the best user experience” – Sachin Doshi, Spotify VP of Content and Distribution
In a way Apple is the victim of its own success. More than any other firm, Apple was responsible for bringing UX into the mainstream, and showcasing design as a source of competitive advantage. Now successful startups – and Apple competitors – like Spotify are trying hard to emulate and surpass its high standards.
Apple set the bar high, but is now struggling to clear it. Like a fading Olympic champion.
From my own perspective, Apple Music wasn’t even a consideration. I’m happy with Spotify, and it would take something special to make me switch to another streaming music service.
Years of frustration with iTunes, and growing frustration with Apple TV, meant Apple Music was never going to be that service. For me, Apple is no longer a credible source of music and entertainment.
I still signed up. But only out of curiosity. And I won’t be sticking around. To understand why, the following links tell the sorry story.
Jim Dalrymple is a veteran Apple commentator, blogger and evangelist. He’s as much of an Apple insider as you can be without working for Apple. He’s a serious influencer in the Apple universe.
But his love for Apple doesn’t stop him putting the boot in. For anybody who worked on Apple Music, it must be a heart-breaking read. For everybody else it’s quite amusing. The title says it all:
While Apple struggles with the basics, Khoi Vinh’s post shows how Spotify is moving further ahead. Vinh is another influential blogger who is “passionate about Apple”. In this more measured post he contrasts the surprise and delight of Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature with the insipid experience of Apple Music.
(I tried Discover Weekly after reading his post and it really is that good).
Marco Arment explains that much of Apple Music’s issues stem from the (baffling) decision to integrate it with iTunes, which as he says, is already a “toxic hellstew” of bad UI and unreliability. Another entertaining, but ultimately dismaying, read.
Update (Aug 21, 2015): It looks like I’m not the only one who is reluctant to make the switch. The Apple magic only works when it’s better than everybody else’s magic…
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