Apple tends to create new product categories a lot—smartphones and tablets, for example, arguably didn't exist until Apple made them worthwhile.
So when Apple is an also-ran, it bides its time, and comes out swinging. There are few fights like an Apple fight. When it enters a new market, the gloves come off, and the services one thought unbeatable are frequently bloodied. Remember the Rio MP3 player? Neither did anyone else once the iPod came to town.
That's what we all expected with the debut of Apple Music. Here, we try to quantify it alongside the competition. In this case, the current champion in most people's eyes remains Spotify (though there are other alternatives). Below is the quick guide to the differences and similarities.
Jan. 2014 as Beats Music; acquired by Apple in May 2014 for $3B; relaunched June 2015.
October 2008, Stolkholm
Free radio (Beats 1 and other stations) or $9.99 per month
Free ad-supported streaming and radio or $9.99 per month ($4.99 for students)
$14.99 per month for six family members (shared via iCloud Family Sharing)
Through Dec. 31: $9.99 for 3 months for up to 4 family members
Trial with full functionality
3 months free
Requires mobile app
It's in the Music app when you update to iOS 8.4 or higher
How many countries
Full integration of iTunes songs and playlists, including songs on iTunes Match ($24.99 per year) and songs in iCloud
Number of users
15 million, but only 6.5 million paying as of October 2015
75 million+ users, 20 million+ paying subscribers (June 2015)
Number of music tracks
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
Internet radio playlist curation
Humans (plus live Beats 1 Internet radio)
Number of skips for free
Six per hour
Five per hour
Sound Quality (free)
Sound Quality (Premium)
160Kbps or 320Kbps
Mac, iOS, Windows (via iTunes), Apple TV, Android
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Roku, TiVo, Samsung Smart TVs, Linux, PlayStation, the Web, and more
No (Apple has a separate app for that)
Music videos, clips uploaded by artists
Also check out 19 Spotify Tricks for Streaming Samurai.
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