Benner on Tech: Apple Gets Into the Music-Streaming Game

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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The Wall Street Journal says Apple will unveil its music streaming service at next week’s developers’ conference. Like Spotify, it will offer unlimited streaming for $10 a month. Unlike Spotify, Apple won’t have an ad-supported free tier that gives listeners access to the service’s entire catalog. Instead, Apple will offer a free, ad-supported radio option that will be hosted by real DJs.

You know who else has an all-you-can-stream option for $10/month, but not free all-access ad-sponsored tier? That’s right. Tidal. You know who has music, DJs and ads? That’s right. Traditional FM radio.

Music industry blogger Bob Lefsetz ripped into the idea that the company will succeed in streaming just because it has a lot of money. “If Apple were all-powerful, iTunes Radio would have killed Pandora. But it did not.” Lefsetz also believes (as do I) that doing away with a decent free tier makes it hard for streaming services to get any traction. He writes:

But then we get to on demand music streaming, i.e. Spotify and the new Apple service. And then we deal with free. I want to point you to this article, wherein it talks about closing Spotify's free window in Spain. REVENUES WENT DOWN AND TOOK A LONG TIME TO RECOVER! Never argue with the data. The data tells us free generates paid.

Only One “Book” Allowed

If someone mentioned the names of two companies -- Facebook and Designbook -- would you say:

a) The two are related companies.

b) The former is a huge Internet behemoth and the other is something you’ve never ever heard of?

I’m gonna go with (b), but that’s just me. Boston Magazine reports that Facebook thinks too many people would choose (a). The Internet giant is blocking the trademark application filed by a small Vermont startup, called Designbook, saying that the name is confusing and implies that the two companies are related.


Coupa Software, a cloud startup that makes procurement software, received $80 million from investors such as T. Rowe Price and Iconiq Capital. The company is now valued at more than $1 billion. (Re/code)

Foursquare users can now summon Uber rides from the Foursquare app.

Ellen Pao is going to appeal. In March she lost the gender discrimination case she filed against the venture firm Kleiner Perkins. (Re/code)

People and Personnel Moves

Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s president of development and sales, and Gary Moore, the company’s president and chief operating officer, will step down July 25 when Chuck Robbins becomes Cisco’s chief executive officer. (Bloomberg)

Tom Georgens is stepping down as chairman and CEO of NetApp. George Kurian will replace him as interim CEO. (Wall Street Journal)

Amit Jain has been hired to lead Uber’s operations in India. Jain was previously the president of (Bloomberg)

Liu Jun is stepping down as the head of Lenovo’s mobile business group. He will stay on as a special consultant to the company’s CEO. (Wall Street Journal)


Apple will no longer subsidize phones sold via AT&T. (9to5Mac) The company will sell the Apple Watch in its retail stores this month. (9to5Mac)

Google is phasing out Google+. (9to5Google) The company’s workforce diversity hasn’t improved. (Bloomberg)

Microsoft is acquiring a to-do list app maker called 6Wunderkinder for between $100 million and $200 million. (Wall Street Journal)

Netflix could soon run ads for its shows on its service. (Motherboard)

SoundCloud is working on a plan to pay record labels royalties. (TechCrunch)

Security Watch

Worried we’ll be vulnerable while the Senate works on the USA Freedom Act? My colleague Eli Lake argues that workarounds will let the government continue to spy. (Bloomberg View)

News and Notes

Lego’s rival to Minecraft, Lego Worlds, is now available for download. (the Verge)

The man who threatened to kill his wife on Facebook had his conviction thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Bloomberg)

Chip company ARM Holdings is trying to buy Sansa Security, a company that focuses on chip security, for $75 million to $85 million. (Wall Street Journal)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at