Although Spotify is still the dominant streaming music service globally, Apple Music is reportedly on pace to become the number one service in the United States this year. Citing figures from record industry sources, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s U.S. subscriber base is growing about 5% each month, versus just 2% for Spotify. At those rates, Apple Music should overtake Spotify during the summer.
Over at Stratechery, Ben Thompson argues that the ascent of Apple Music on iPhones will help Apple sell other hardware, including the HomePod speaker that launches on Friday. “In this view, Apple Music serves as a ‘bridge’ to translate iPhone market share into smart speaker share; services is a means, not an end, which is exactly what we should expect from a company with Apple’s vertical business model,” Thompson writes.
One potential hitch: Amazon and Google sold an estimated 45 million smart speakers in the United States last quarter alone. While some of those users might switch to HomePod if they already subscribe to Apple Music, they can also easily switch to alternative music services like Spotify or Amazon Music Unlimited, which don’t require any additional hardware. Signing up for Apple Music on an iPhone is frictionless. Spending $350 on an external speaker to access that service? Not so much.