Ben Thompson: I was wrong about Apple Music

Reacting to Bloomberg’s Apple Puts Music Service on Amazon Echo in Subscription Push.

From Monday’s daily Stratechery post ($):

I’ll start with the mea culpa: I did not see this coming. Earlier this year I argued that Apple Music was for Apple a means, not an end. (Link to Apple’s Middle Age)

This announcement means this analysis was flat out wrong; that’s fine, it happens. Actually, it’s more than fine: being wrong is tremendously interesting, and I find this decision fascinating.

First, I think it is reasonable to assume that the HomePod is a flop. I should note that this statement is fueled by confirmation bias, because that means my analysis was right previously…

This is a decision that quite explicitly favors one of Apple’s services (Apple Music) over one of Apple’s hardware lines (the HomePod); that is a lot less like a services narrative and a lot more like a services strategy. It’s a shift that is not just fascinating, it’s frankly a bit stunning.

My take: The opinionated Mr. Thompson is at his best when revising his opinions.


  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    I’m confused by this action. I just dint see buyers of a cheap speaker shelling out for a paid music service when they can get Spotify for “free” (albeit with commercials).

    The benefit of this move is unbeknownst to me.

    December 3, 2018
    • S Lawton said:
      More analysis of Apple music on Amazon from Forbes
      With Amazon Echo Deal, Apple Music Is At A Crossroads

      December 3, 2018
  2. Eric Hale said:
    Having worked in marketing for a long time, one of the most valuable lessons that you learn is: “I am not the market.” Buyers buy for their reasons, not yours.

    Amazon has beaten Apple to the market with a multiple SKU Echo product-line that meets the needs of so many people – at a price that nearly everyone can afford. And the features blow the HomePod out of the water. I do not see how Apple is going to compete with Amazon in this hardware space, given Amazon’s lead.

    This move is fantastic. It gives Echo users with iPhones the ability to use Apple Music one the Echo ecosystem. Personally, I signed up for Spotify because I couldn’t use my Apple Music account on my Echos. (I am not the market. I am not the market.) I have 3 Echos in my home. (I am not the market.) 🙂

    December 3, 2018
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      It gives Echo users with iPhones the ability to use Apple Music on the Echo ecosystem.

      Now that makes sense.

      December 3, 2018
      • David Drinkwater said:
        Yup. It’s just like putting iTunes on Windows many years ago. It slowly drags converts into the fold.

        December 3, 2018
    • David Emery said:
      “I am not the market.” 🙂

      I admit I’ve never tried Siri, so I’m definitely not the market for a smart speaker 🙂 (Even though I have several Airport Expresses hooked up to speakers/stereo systems to play my iTunes Library throughout the house.)

      December 5, 2018

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