As expected Apple arrived in the streaming music arena earlier yesterday, with the announcement of Apple Music, a Spotify rival that will change the face of the streaming industry.
It doesn't even need to be any good to do so. Yes, it needs to meet the basic requirements of a streaming service, which it does, but beyond that the unswerving loyalty of Apple's customers offers a real threat to other services.
Right now there are an awful lot of streaming services out there and most are probably pretty worried. For once Sony seems to have got ahead of the game by killing its own streaming service and handing the reins over to Spotify. The latter is by far the biggest service out there in terms of global paying subscribers, however that is unlikely to insulate it from the shock. Apple customers are, more often than not, those who will pay for services like Spotify. It is odds on they will be the first to switch to the new service too, unless it turns out to be an Apple Maps style train wreck, which it won't.
Whether Spotify still has a viable business once a large majority of its paying customers have gone remains to be seen. Will advertising alone be enough to keep the business alive when it continues to burn through cash with a subscriber income stream?
For smaller specialist services like Tidal, Deezer and the like there doesn't seem to be a great deal of hope. I'd wager most of their paying customers are Apple customers too. When Apple's service is going to be much more tightly integrated with iOS, why stay outside the walled garden? Even Jay Z and his support crew won't prove enough to avoid being flattened by Apple's rollercoaster.
Google's Play Music and YouTube Music services stand a better chance, being Android native and pre-installed doesn't hurt. Android users have some antipathy towards Apple, which should keep them off the new service.
Microsoft has a native solution for Windows 8/10 devices which is also pre-installed. As it also supports Xbox and all other platforms you'd think it was ready made for success. That doesn't seem to be the case though, even if Microsoft hasn't broken out the numbers for the service.
I anticipate Apple Music being the largest music streaming service (by paid subscribers) by the time we get to WWDC next year - if not before. How many of the other services remaining standing at that time remains to be seen.