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Eddy Cue: Company not fixated on immediate Apple Music numbers; working on addressing high roaming charges


In an interview with London’s Evening Standard, Apple SVP Eddy Cue said that Apple is relaxed about how many Apple Music subscribers are immediately willing to pay for the service once their free trial ends.

Ultimately, you never know until it happens. But we’re pleased with the number of people who have tried. Everybody gets fixated on the short term but we’re in this for the long haul.

Though published today, the interview took place before the trial ended for early adopters, so doesn’t give any hint as to conversion rates …

In what seems likely to be a carefully scripted aside, Cue also said that Apple is working on tackling roaming charges, when people travel overseas with their iPhones.

He taps his phone and makes an offhand comment about “trying not to get roaming charges” while in London which, I note, proves how insanely expensive phone calls and data can be abroad. “It’s sad, it’s another problem,” says Cue. “We’re trying to fix it and we’re making a little bit of progress but you’ve got to convince a lot of people.”

It had previously been suggested that Apple might want to become a virtual carrier, offering its own service plans using infrastructure belonging to existing carriers, a claim Apple quickly denied.

The company has, however, been making some moves in that general direction, starting with its own SIM card, working with carriers to develop a standard for universal SIMs and launching an iPhone Upgrade Plan that allows customers to get a new phone each year directly from Apple rather than via carriers.

Cue also echoed an old Steve Jobs line that customers don’t know what they want until they see it.

One of the dangers is to only do things people tell you to do. You would never do Live Photos or 3D Touch if you only listened to people. To innovate you have to look beyond. We used to say that we get paid to look around corners.

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  1. 89p13 - 8 years ago

    While I did not – nor do I intend to – sign up for Apple Music, the thought that Apple is looking into becoming a Virtual Carrier is enticing. That I would certainly consider, when I look at how much I pay for an AT&T Family Plan that is very data unfriendly.

    I would think that IF Apple decides to do a Virtual Carrier Network, it would increase the competition and could result in forcing the Monopoly that is AT&T / Verizon to lower their prices or increase their services. Competition is Always good.

    If only Apple would enter the Cable Business.


    • Rolf Haug (@rolfhaug) - 8 years ago

      I just don’t see them getting into a business that’s so competitive. Data is becoming a commodity and its a race to the bottom on pricing. There’s already someone out there forcing ATT\Verizon to lower their prices and increase services, and it’s T-Mobile. Most of the changes in the industry over the last few years were brought about because of changes T-Mobile made. I switched in August after being with ATT for 6 years and I couldn’t be happier. Where I live their network is tremendously faster than ATT or even Verizon (NJ\PA\NY). I’m paying less money for a better service and getting double the value I did with ATT. I only wish I had switched sooner.

      • Steve Grenier - 8 years ago

        Apple has changed. Apple Watch, Apple Music, Beats 1, the rumoured Apple Car, all point to a new Apple and leaving the ways of the past behind. Being their own carrier will have a minimal effect on their profits but it will enhance the desire to buy and own Apple products. The same way the App Store, Apple Music, iBooks, etc. all exist to compliment their hardware business. A better and cheaper alternative to existing carriers will make buying iPhones much more compelling. Apple is so large that it can start a business that’s sole purpose is to drive sales of other products. It’s pretty amazing and reason for many other company CEOs to stay awake at night.

      • mikhailt - 8 years ago

        Being a virtual carrier does not mean Apple is competing against the big 5 carriers, it means Apple can become a service on top of these 4 big carriers in US. Instead of dealing with the carriers, you’re dealing with Apple only and Apple handles everything else for you. It already fits with what you’re saying, data becoming more of a commodity and prices are decreasing, Apple would be pushing this further by being a powerful virtual carrier.

        If Apple buys data package from T-mobile and ATT and you sign up for Apple’s plan, you will be using whichever is the fastest in the area you are in. So, if you go to one area that Tmobile does better than ATT, iPhone automatically switches to Tmobile and if you switch to a different area that favors ATT, it does that. If Apple also buys data packages from Wi-Fi hotspot companies, that’ll be included automatically and you’d be switching to whatever’s fastest near you. Apple can also automatically refund you any unused data and for using Wi-Fi hotspot more than the cellular network. That’s what Google already does with its FI network, they’re using Sprint/T-Mobile networks.

        Apple would absolutely do this if they can. Imagine with their iPhone upgrade program plan, the internet can be included for free or you get automatic free upgrade every year for paying into Apple’s internet service.

      • Rolf Haug (@rolfhaug) - 8 years ago

        @mikhailt – I agree, Apple would absolutely do this if they could. I’m a huge apple fan, and I’d be the first one to sign up. The problem is, I think its a pipe dream. Apple would absolutely compete against the big 4 carriers, it’s not like I’m going to sign up with Apple AND T-Mobile. I’m going to choose one. I see what you’re saying about Project Fi, and thats a great idea, but I would guess there’s a very good reason they only have Sprint and T-Mo on board and not Verizon or ATT. The prices ATT and Verizon probably gave Google to roam on their “superior” networks I’m sure were astronomical. Have you seen the cost of data on Project Fi? $10 per GB! I pay $50 a month with T-Mo right now for unlimited talk\text and 10gb data, with no data overage charge, and data rollover. I use about 5-7gb a month. That would cost me $70-$90 a month. What incentive do I have to pay Google? They’re always going to be charged more by the carriers for data, because they are now a middle man reselling the data. I can see the four carriers raking Apple over the coals for prices. Google’s plan seems to cater to the person who mostly uses wifi and the occasional GB or two of cell data, and mostly uses talk and text. I don’t see it being financially feasible in comparison to the big 4’s (especially T-Mo) data packages. Apple Music’s monthly price proves that the era of sweetheart deals for Apple is over. Before it came out, speculation was $5 a month, then $7.99 a month, and it came in right at the $9.99 price point of their competitor Spotify. They couldn’t do it any cheaper. I don’t see the big 4 cutting Apple any bargain pricing. I don’t see how there would be enough on the table for them to make a profit, while buying the data in bulk from the carriers and playing the middle man to re-sell it to their customers. Would the customer experience be better going through Apple and not the carriers? Absolutely. But they still aren’t in the business of losing money. That all being said, I would LOVE to see it happen, I just don’t see HOW it could financially happen.

  2. AeronPeryton - 8 years ago

    The proof that Apple cares about Music (both the lower and uppercase word) is that I’ve seen and felt a great deal of polish and tuning since it started three months ago. For three months, operating 100% in the red, paying the artists but not themselves, Apple has steadily worked to improve Apple Music. I’m going to be an early believer. There won’t be as many of me as Wall Street would like, but Apple Music is starting at staggeringly higher level than the iTunes Music Store did. And now iTunes is the number one source of music in the world.

    To those of you that don’t want to pay for what you get, at least not at first, see you on the other side.

  3. prius3 - 8 years ago

    I will pay Apple Music (which is interesting) when iCloud Music library will not destroy years of work in a few minutes. And not being able to match ITunes’ own songs. And no, I don’t want to disable the iCloud Music library, because without it I cannot listen to music I don’t own but cannot or do not want to stream, by saving it for offline listening on my iPhone or Mac.
    Last but not least, I will not pay a service that replaces songs I legally own with DRM protected versions, the moment I make the mistake to delete a song from my library and download what I believe to be a copy of my song. Getting instead a DRM protected version I can listen to, only if I am enrolled in Apple Music.
    Sorry, but for the time being I will save 120€/year and keep my songs library safe from harm.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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