Reports: Apple delays Beats relaunch, nixes free version

Apple is readying its revamped version of the Beat streaming music service, but it won’t be launched until later this year and won’t include a free tier, according to published reports.

The iPhone maker is now expected to relaunch the music service at its developer conference in June, instead of at its press event next week, Apple news blog 9to5Mac reported Thursday. The company plans to charge $8 a month for the service, according to the blog site; unlike rivals such as Spotify, Apple won’t offer a free version of the service to consumers, Recode reported Friday.

Apple had planned to launch the new version of Beats before the developer conference, but was delayed by the departure of certain key executives and technical challenges integrating Beats’ service with iTunes, Apple’s legacy music service and software, according to 9to5Mac. While the developer conference is its new target date, Apple could delay the launch of the service until it releases the next version of iOS, its mobile operating system, which would likely be this fall.

Right now, consumers access Beats via its own app on iPhones and iPads and Android devices and through a Web browser on PCs. As part of the re-launch, Apple is integrating the streaming service into its Music app on iOS devices and into iTunes on Macs, 9to5Mac reported.

The prospective $8 monthly fee for the revamped service would represent a discount from Beats current price and from rival options. Beats, Spotify and Rdio all currently charge $10 a month for the full versions of their streaming music services.

While Spotify and Rdio offer free, ad-supported, limited feature versions of their services, Apple doesn’t plan to do the same with Beats, according to Recode. The music industry is hoping to move away from free services and force consumers to pay for music in some fashion, a move that Apple officials support, according to the tech blog site.

It’s unclear whether Apple will retain the “Beats” name for the service. A report last fall indicated that Apple planned to drop that name.

Apple purchased the Beats streaming service as well as Beats’ headphone and speaker business in a $3 billion deal last year.

Photo: From left to right, music entrepreneur and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Beats co-founder Dr. Dre, and Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. in May (Paul Sakuma/AP Photo).


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