Apple finally unveiled its new paid music streaming service this week. Called Apple Music, the service that will launch June 30 has a lot in common with competitors already on the market. Some of those players, like Spotify, already have a big head start. The European-based Spotify announced Wednesday that it now has 20 million paying subscribers.
But Apple has something Spotify doesn’t: near total control over a mobile ecosystem used by a huge segment of the market.
Apple is the top maker of smartphones in the United States, according to figures released by comScore earlier this year. And its iOS operating system controls more than 40 percent of the U.S. market, ranking only behind Google’s Android, which is open source and used on devices from many different manufacturers.
That’s a huge advantage for Apple, especially because the tech giant’s overall strategy is based on the idea of vertical integration: It controls the hardware, the software, the retail, major services tied to its platforms and, ultimately, the app marketplace that allows other companies to reach consumers using its products.
That control doesn’t mean Apple is going to stop letting other companies put their software in the App Store. But the next version of iOS, 8.4, will come with Apple Music pre-loaded — replacing the current music app.
So, smartphone users won’t have to go to the app store and download it, they’ll just need to click in and sign up. Combine that with how tied Apple users already are to the company’s services — everything from iTunes to iCloud — and that reduced friction could give Apple Music the boost it needs to succeed in the already crowded paid streaming market.