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Apple Shows Off Its Newest Product, and Promises Much More to Come

Nice timing! Here's the first extended interview with the Beats co-founder, and one of the only interviews of the Apple executive.

Asa Mathat
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Liveblog highlights

  • Apple offers three reasons for its $3 billion deal to acquire Beats: the talent, the headphones and the subscription music service.
  • The deal represents a culmination of a decade-long relationship between Apple and veteran music industry veteran Jimmy Iovine
  • Iovine says he will attempt to bridge two cultures: desperately insecure Hollywood, and overconfident Silicon Valley.
  • Eddy Cue dismissed speculation that Apple is buying “cool.” Rather, it represents an opportunity to create great products together.
  • Iovine said the Beats/HTC partnership crashed because of a culture clash.
  • Cue talks about how the TV viewing experience “sucks,” but addressing the problem is a hard challenge to solve. He promised continued improvement with the current product, Apple TV.
  • Asked about Apple’s cloud service, Cue said it will continue to play a background role as a “faceless” feature that works seamlessly.
  • Iovine said Beats Music will continue to be available on Android phones. It now boasts 250,000 subscribers.
  • Cue praises CEO Tim Cook as a tremendous leader, says great new products are coming.
  • Cue says current product lineup is the best in his 25 years.

We can say this about the Apple/Beats deal: It will bring Apple watchers a completely different kind of Apple executive to watch.

Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine is a quick study — “I’m at Apple now. I can’t say anything”, he announced, midway through his onstage interview at the Code Conference — but he hasn’t quite mastered Apple Omerta yet. So the former music executive had lots to say about the state of the music business, the distrust between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and the prospect for rival streaming services like Spotify.

Apple SVP Eddy Cue, meanwhile, is excellent at saying very little, and mostly stuck to talking points his boss Tim Cook had already laid out regarding the reasoning behind the deal. But Cue still offered a bit of insight into Apple’s mindset: He asserted that the company hasn’t had to “reset” after Steve Jobs death, and that the company’s upcoming product line is the most impressive one he’s seen in 25 years.

As Walt Mossberg pointed out, Cue has now set a very high hurdle for himself and his company. If he clears it, the fact that Apple spent $3 billion on a headphone and streaming company may seem like an afterthought.

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