Report suggest Apple will fully integrate Beats Music into its ecosystem

APPLE is set to change up iOS, iTunes and its Apple TV in order to integrate a new music streaming service based on Beats Music, which it acquired last year.

While it has been expected that Apple will overhaul the Beats Music service for iPhone, a new report from 9to5mac suggests the company will widely integrate the service into its entire ecosystem.

The Spotify competitor will likely use iTunes name and be entirely designed by Apple, but will use Beats’ technology and existing music deals, according to the report.

The design will be made to look just like the current music app on your iPhone or iPad and will allow users to search through both the iTunes and Beats catalogue at the same time. Users will then be able to select whether they want to purchase the track from iTunes or stream it from the cloud using the new Beats based streaming service. Apple is also looking to include Beats’ curated playlists, a feature which was used as a selling point when Beats Music launched last year.

It’s also thought that Apple will continue to offer and support the Beats Music service for Android. This would be the first that Apple has ever developed an app for Google’s Android operating system, something Steve Jobs famously quoted as being “a stolen product”.

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.” Source: Supplied

Pricing wise, it is believed that Apple will charge $7.99 for the service in the US, less than the $9.99 a month Spotify charges.

In terms of launch dates, the service was originally pinned to launch as soon as March, but it’s now looking more likely to be June at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

Apple acquired Beats Music last year as part of a $3 billion deal, the largest acquisition the company has ever made.

How Samsung is being challenged from all sides

SAMSUNG lost the battle of the big phones last quarter as Apple’s copycat large iPhone lured buyers in the crucial Chinese market.

Samsung is being squeezed on all fronts. Source: AFP

The South Korean company said Thursday its October-December profit sank, with an improvement in its semiconductor business insufficient to mask its mobile problems.

It was in China, the world’s largest market for smartphones, where Samsung’s dramatic decline was most evident. Its weakness there is a key reason why Samsung’s share of global smartphone sales dropped to about one quarter last year from a one-third share in 2013.

Apple contributed to Samsung’s latest reversal in fortune, launching iPhones with bigger screens that robbed Samsung’s Galaxy phones of a key selling point. Samsung was already battling competition in low-end phones from upstart manufacturers such as China’s Xiaomi.

Samsung is struggling in countries such as China because “they’re sort of being eaten from the bottom up by regional players” including Huawei and Xiaomi, said Ben Bajaran, an analyst at Silicon Valley research firm Creative Strategies.

Apple’s bigger iPhones have propelled the Californian company to new highs. Source: AFP

“And now with Apple being competitive in larger phones, you’re seeing Samsung losing any edge they had at the high end,” he said.

In the second quarter last year, Xiaomi overtook Samsung to become the biggest selling smartphone maker in China. Samsung now ranks third in that market, after Apple raced to the top in the fourth quarter, according to research company Canalys.

Thanks to its bigger iPhones, Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones last quarter, which along with high prices helped make it the world’s most profitable company.

According to Strategy Analytics, Apple tied Samsung in global smartphone sales, the first time Samsung has not had a big lead since late 2011. The research firm said Apple’s new iPhones were “wildly popular” in China as well as the United States and Europe. Counterpoint, another market research firm, put Apple narrowly ahead of Samsung.

A third firm, International Data Corp., estimated Apple came just short of a tie with Samsung. It’s not unusual for research firms to produce slightly different estimates.

But IDC said Apple’s sales were especially “impressive” because the new iPhone models are selling at a higher average price than older models, at a time when Samsung and other rivals are competing to offer phones at significantly lower prices. Apple shares gained 1.5 per cent Thursday and are up more than 7 per cent since it announced iPhone sales figures for the December quarter.

Samsung, in contrast, reported its fourth straight drop in quarterly earnings. Profit sank 27 per cent to 5.3 trillion won ($4.9 billion). Strategy Analytics estimated that Samsung shipped 74.5 million smartphones in the quarter, down from nearly 90 million in the previous year’s quarter. Samsung has not given a precise figure but estimated it sold between 72.2 million and 75.1 million smartphones.

Samsung didn’t give clear guidance of how its mobile business would perform during the current quarter. Instead, to appease investors the company announced a 40 per cent increase in its annual dividends for 2014. Its share price fell 1.3 per cent in Seoul.

Repeating its previous statements, the company said it will try to differentiate its smartphones with new materials and designs and will reduce the number of smartphone models to streamline its business.