UPDATE 3: New reports confirm our initial conclusion: Apple may be rebranding Beats Music as part of a new iTunes music service, but it is not shutting it down. In fact, in a rare public repudiation, Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr stated, “This is not true” when asked if Apple would shut down Beats Music.
The Orignal Story: Apple is said to be discontinuing the Beats Music service it purchased as part of a $3.2 billion deal that included Beats audio hardware, according to the usually reputable Techcrunch. 5 sources "including several prominent employees at Apple and Beats" confirmed to the blog that many engineers from Beats Music have been shifted to other projects at Apple, including iTunes.
Is Apple Shutting Down Beats Music Or Rebranding It?
Techcrunch cites the trouble that Beats Music has had gaining traction, and points to no mention of the service at the recent iPhone 6/Apple Watch mega-event as further proof. "The fact that the new iPhones did not come pre-installed with Beats Music, while several other Apple apps came loaded on the 6 and 6 Plus, should have been a red flag," according to the blog.
All true, but Beats has been cropping up elsewhere on Apple products, like last week on Apple TV. And then there's Apple CEO Tim Cook's expressed love of Beats Music during his recent Charlie Rose TV appearance. "Some people think they’re all alike," said Cook of Beats vs. other subscription music services. "One night, I’m sitting playing with theirs versus some others," Cook continued, "and all of a sudden it dawns on me that when I listen to theirs for a while, I feel completely different. And the reason is: they recognised that human curation was important in the subscription service. The sequence of songs that you listen to affects how you feel... I couldn’t sleep that night, so I was thinking ‘we need to do this'."
Does that sound like a CEO ready to buy and shut down Beats Music?
I'm betting that Techcrunch is wrong. (And, it turns out I bet right) Beats Music isn't shutting down. Rather, I suspect that it is being rebranded and folded into something new within iTunes. Mostly likely, its a paid subscription music service that will look and feel like an Apple product but operate a lot like... Beats Music.
In fact, in the same story Techcrunch offers evidence that could back up my theory: "Instead of Beats Music, the Apple Watch features an unannounced music app with a blue play button (top right in the photo below) that instantly starting playing songs when tapped during a demo."
Re/code now reports that its sources confirm ourt hunch, saying, " Apple won’t shutter the streaming service. It may, however, modify it over time, and one of those changes could involved changing the Beats Music brand."