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Apple Managers Didn't Know How Spotify Worked, Engineers Used Pandora Over iTunes Radio

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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Engineers working on iTunes Radio prefer to listen to Spotify and Pandora because they were better platforms, according to a new report from Buzzfeed. It claims that not only did those employees prefer Apple's competitors over its own radio service, but it says middle management was willfully ignorant about how Spotify worked, thinking it was just another streaming service.

It's "why they thought iTunes Radio would be a Spotify killer," said one employee. The piece alleges that Apple has been overly focused on driving downloads on iTunes and slow to adapt to a shift in user listening preferences towards subscription-based services.

Past and current employees in the company with direct knowledge of iTunes and Apple's services Ping and iTunes Radio told BuzzFeed that Apple engineers involved with those products often preferred to use Spotify and Pandora. "Everyone's excuse was it's because we work on iTunes, running and closing the app after every code change," one source said. "But it's really because Spotify has all the free music with a real social platform." In their personal time, sources said, employees used Spotify and Pandora.

Apple employees confirmed that management actively ignored iTunes' streaming competitors, with some managers refusing to open or use Spotify. One source said that as recently "as last year," some members of management didn't even know that Spotify was an on-demand streaming service, assuming it was just a radio service.
The disconnect between employees, along with a belief that Spotify and Pandora weren't real threats to iTunes, may have been a significant contributing factor to Apple's slowness to embrace streaming music. A reluctance to cut into its iTunes sales was also likely a factor, as it was the platform that revolutionized the music industry back in 2003.

According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple's main goal with iTunes Radio was boosting both device sales and sales of iTunes music, which largely ignored the real problem -- the growing popularity of on-demand streaming music and the products being offered by competitors. iTunes Radio was viewed as a "baby step" into the streaming music industry when what Apple really needed was a leap.

Apple had a similar issue back in 2010 when it launched Ping. Designed as a social networking and music recommendation service, Ping was created to push users to purchase songs rather than as a true effort towards improving recommendations, which ultimately led to its failure in 2012. "The biggest reason why Ping failed was because Apple was not interested in making a network -- they were interested in making a purchase pusher," said one of Buzzfeed's sources.

With the purchase of Beats, it appears that Apple is finally ready to make a significant leap into the streaming music industry, though a cautious one. The company reportedly plans to keep Beats as a standalone brand rather than integrating it directly into iTunes, which gives it a safety net should the service ultimately fail.

Along with the streaming music service itself, Apple is also gaining fresh blood for its music endeavors. Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, both of whom are set to join Apple as employees, both have extensive experience in the music industry and an invaluable rapport with a younger generation of listeners.

Article Link: Apple Managers Didn't Know How Spotify Worked, Engineers Used Pandora Over iTunes Radio
 

chirpie

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2010
643
179
And that's how a couple dozen ignorant employees can cost you 3 billion dollars. :D
 

0000757

macrumors 68040
Dec 16, 2011
3,894
849
Doesn't surprise me if it's true.

Then again doesn't surprise me if it's false.

I only use Pandora cause there isn't iTunes Radio on Android. When I get my iPhone again I will definitely go back to iTunes Radio, but I'll keep Pandora around for my comedy stations.
 

akatsuki

macrumors regular
Sep 3, 2010
180
9
Seriously, that is just embarassing. I would pretty much fire everyone involved.
 

chfilm

macrumors 68030
Nov 15, 2012
2,930
1,701
Berlin
I hate to be that guy in this thread... but something like this wouldn't have happened under Steve! :(
 

i4k20c

macrumors 6502a
Sep 10, 2005
694
22
Doesn't surprise me if it's true.

Then again doesn't surprise me if it's false.

I only use Pandora cause there isn't iTunes Radio on Android. When I get my iPhone again I will definitely go back to iTunes Radio, but I'll keep Pandora around for my comedy stations.

as in stand up comedy? if so what are the stations?

and damn..imagine what steve jobs would have done to those employees! :(
 

danilko1

macrumors 65816
Jun 21, 2010
1,084
360
Some managers and employees don't do their job. They want a free pay check too.

It is imperative that the engineers and managers understand the whole industry from the top down, understand context, and placement of their own offering. If they don't, they should be fired.
 

tdtran1025

macrumors 6502
Dec 26, 2011
275
0
Seen this before; MS dismissed Apple as a niche market product maker. The rest si history.
 

mac1984user

macrumors 6502a
Dec 10, 2009
807
361
United Kingdom
Not surprising, but I also kind of see their point. If you're happy not to own your music and listen to music like you watch random TV programs, Spotify is great. But I don't like paying a subscription for music I'd rather not stream. So, for me, Spotify has always been a bit of an annoyance. Intrusive ads or monthly payment plans. At least the Netflix model makes more sense due to the infrequency with which we rewatch films as opposed to music. Ultimately, just do what you like, I suppose!
 
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GuitarDTO

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2011
687
110
The employees themselves need to take responsibility, not just blame the ol' manager. An "A team" employee would walk into the managers office, demand that they use the other service, tell him why even when he says get out, and push the issue. Of course managers are clueless, but in this case so are the employees. It sometimes take's a big set of b@lls to drive change at a large company and sometimes going against the grain. (I am a mechanical engineer and deal with this daily). The larger Apple gets, the more this will become an issue.
 

Nyy8

macrumors 6502a
Jun 12, 2011
513
133
New England
I thought the managers/engineers were supposed to know how the competition works in order to make their product better?

If Managers had seen nothing but the green Spotify Logo... sounds like ignorance to me.
 

3onpar5

macrumors newbie
Aug 8, 2011
14
0
I used Spotify before Apple bought Beats. I gave Beats the 14 day trial after the merger & I have to say I really like Beats. It gives great recommendations & the ability to download & listen offline was the biggest reason I liked Spotify, & that feature is available in Beats.

I would suggest everyone give Beats a try. i think you will be pleasantly surprised.
 

ThatsMeRight

macrumors 68020
Sep 12, 2009
2,257
124
Spotify is really amazing. It works flawlessly, it is available on a wide range of platforms, it has an offline mode, etc.

Another thing which makes Spotify so great is that not only has it great algorithms to learn what you like and recommend new music. Additionally, it has a really big and great community which means it doesn't only rely on algorithms. There's a *human* aspect.

I really can't believe this story is true. If true, Apple, arguably one of the pioneers in the music industries with the iPod and iTunes, completely missed the change in music listening behavior by consumers.
 

michaelant

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2006
189
133
Thanks for the interview.

Yup, guys, it's me, the 'one employee' quoted here in this piece. Steve Jobs parked in the handicap space and then backed over my dog on the way out and I've never forgiven him or Apple. And they're stupid about business too, btw.
 

taedouni

macrumors 65816
Jun 7, 2011
1,114
27
California
That just shows how some middle managers can be bad to a company. The young employees are continuously learning new things, check out the competition, and have many innovative ideas but some managers fail to do their job and act on them and present this issues/ideas to executives of the company. This isn't really just an Apple thing, it probably exists in all technological companies.
 

blue22

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2010
505
18
Wwjd...

Wow. Imagine how much faster heads would've rolled over this incompetence if Steve Jobs was still at the helm? :eek:
 
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