Despite years of barbs and proclamations of impending doom on Android fanciers’ blogs, Apple and iOS aren’t exactly in dire straits.
The mobile platform continues to be strong, with huge iPhone and iPad sales continuing even though both devices are reaching that summer point in time where upgrading consumers start weighing up whether to hold back and wait for something new.
But that’s not to say everything’s rosy either.
Android is rampant and Apple’s major rivals, despite being ordered to fork over millions in compensation for stolen patents, are on the march.
Samsung, quite simply, is going to take some catching.
Releasing larger iPhones will help Apple in this fight. But so will buying up Beats Audio.
The revelation today that Tim Cook is set to seal a $3.2 billion deal for the Dr Dre-founded headphones company has been met by incredulity in some quarters.
Hardcore techies don’t see how cans which are critically derided, but a commercial smash, fit with Apple’s premium brand.
The fact is, the headphones are merely a by-product. What Apple really wants, what it really needs, is Beats’ streaming audio service.
Years of unwillingness to push the iTunes brand into the world of paid-for streams (and no, iTunes Radio doesn’t count), has seen Apple fall behind Spotify, Rdio and Google.
Download numbers are falling as punters go all-in with streaming.
Apple has surely seen this and realised that going it that alone isn’t going to get it where it needs to be quickly enough.
Spotify now offers ad–supported streaming via its iOS app and Apple is going to have to do the same if it wants to maintain its position as the music industry’s supreme deal-breaker.
Loading-up a version of Beats streaming onto iOS will give Apple the push it needs.
Google’s excellent Play Music already offers this on Android phones, so there can be no delay in bringing a similar offering to iOS.
It needs to be native and if this deal goes through next week, it needs to happen with iOS 8.
If it doesn’t, Apple will be left trailing even further behind, as rival services continue to grow and improve.
However, just by making a move for Beats, Tim Cook has shown how serious he and his company are about this area. They have no choice.
Without a native streaming service iOS is going to look very outdated indeed.
Beats has got deals with labels ironed out, so it’s a case of getting it plugged into the mainframe as soon as possible. iOS’s future depends on it.