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How Apple Music can turn users into subscribers

Dan Moren | Aug. 3, 2015
According to industry sources, Apple Music has racked up 10 million users in its first month. That's a pretty good number, as the far more established Spotify boasts somewhere in the realm of 20 million paid subscribers.

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Credit: Apple

According to industry sources, Apple Music has racked up 10 million users in its first month. That's a pretty good number, as the far more established Spotify boasts somewhere in the realm of 20 million paid subscribers.

Of course, we're also just a month into a three-month free trial period, and it's pretty easy to get people to sign up for your service when it doesn't cost them a dime. So when September 30 rolls around and users have to decide whether Apple Music is worth $10 a month to them, what's Apple going to have to do to convince them to stick around?

Clean up the interface

Much as Apple prides itself on great design and user experience, its music-streaming service has been a bit of a mixed bag. Some features have felt kind of hidden; others have seemed to function inconsistently. Overall, there's a distinct impression that functionality has been bolted on to an existing framework in imperfect ways.

There are indications that Apple's moving to tweak some of those issues. A look at the iOS 9 beta shows a streamlined and refined interface where a few of the more egregious design choices are concerned, but I think Apple still has more improvements to make. For example, I'd love to be able to disable Connect without resorting to parental controls, have some sort of Handoff support, and see Apple pep up the intelligent music curation a bit--where is that soundtrack bubble?

And then there's iTunes. Developer Marco Arment recently appropriated a Tim Cook turn of phrase--originally used in reference to Android's fragmented security situation--to describe the bloated, overburdened state of the app. I've already advocated breaking up iTunes, but really, we're at the stage where it should be razed to the ground. And if you're trying to sell users on a new streaming service, a new redesigned app seems like a good place to start.

Root out the bugs

Every new service has its growing pains, and Apple Music is no exception. The benefit of a three-month trial is that at least most people don't feel like they're being charged for a product that doesn't work right. But that doesn't excuse most issues, especially when they interfere with something as personal as one's music collection.

The Loop's Jim Dalrymple was vociferous about his problems with Apple Music, describing it as "a nightmare," and while Apple attempted to address the issues he encountered, most users aren't going to get personal attention from Apple when they run into problems like their music disappearing.

 

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