Amazon announced today (Dec. 30) that Apple’s streaming music service, Apple Music, will be available on its Echo devices starting Dec. 17.
Echo owners will be able to listen to Apple Music playlists, or Beats 1 radio, as easily as they can currently listen to Spotify, Pandora, or any of the other music services available on the Echo.
Apple tends not to offer its services outside of its own devices too often, preferring customers to buy its products to access things like iOS, macOS, GarageBand, and other software. While Apple’s revenue from services—like Apple Music subscriptions, and sales of games, movies, and apps—has grown massively in recent years (it’s now Apple’s second-largest business behind the iPhone), it’s still primarily a hardware company. Its services business generated nearly $10 billion last quarter, compared to nearly $52 billion in hardware sales, with over $37 billion of that coming just from iPhone sales.
But Apple’s guidance for the current holiday season was lower than analysts had been expecting. Coupled with rumors that its newest phones aren’t shipping in the numbers Apple had expected, and the fact that the company announced that it will no longer break out how many devices it ships each quarter, some analysts have been concerned that there might be weakness in Apple’s core business. This all helped contribute to one of the worst months Apple’s stock has seen in a decade, with its share price now effectively flat over the last year.
Perhaps Apple sees partnering with Amazon as a necessary move to keep customers using its services even when they’re not using its devices. Amazon has sold around (paywall) 50 million Echo devices since the original speaker’s launch in 2014. And while Apple has never specified how its smart speaker, the HomePod, has performed, it’s likely sold only a fraction of that many. (The HomePod is lumped into a business line Apple calls “Other products,” which also features the resurgent Apple Watch, and the increasingly popular AirPods headphones.) With its services business growing, and iPhone sales possibly faltering, this may be a canny move to keep users locked into its services even when it can’t keep them locked into its hardware ecosystem.
Apple wasn’t immediately available to comment on the news, or whether Apple Music would be coming to other devices in the future.