Home > Apps, Brand, Larry Gifford, New Media, Radio > It’s Not Beats1’s Fault, Blame Steve Jobs

It’s Not Beats1’s Fault, Blame Steve Jobs

RS 107 cover

Click image to listen to my review of Beats1.

Beats1 is on the air!

I’m underwhelmed thus far and I blame Steve Jobs. He taught me to expect the unexpected. He created products that at first blush seemingly made no sense (an iPad? I have an iPhone. Why do I want something bigger?), but were nearly instantaneous culture changing innovations. He created a brand expectation that sadly Apple can no longer live up to.

In my mind I was really hoping Beats1 was going to be revolutionary, be a paradigm shift for radio, inspire a new generation of broadcasters and push the industry back on it’s heels a bit. I imagined that they would figure out a way to integrate a song an hour from everyone’s personal iTunes collection weaving it seamlessly into the fabric of the radio station making it a truly personalized experience. I envisioned a XAPP Media type vocal recognition program which would allow you to say out loud, “buy this song” and it would instantly download to your iTunes account. I counted on Apple to create the fully integrated, connected, social savvy, second screen radio has been struggling to create. My expectations were too high.

Instead, so far, the bigger impact of Beats1 is for rising artists who get a global spin and ideally, for them, an instant international fan base. (Also, Pandora founder Tim Westergren’s dream. AUDIO)

As it impacts radio, Beats1 seems more of a blast of the past than a quantum leap into the future:

Shouting city names over records.. Radio does this.

Live reads. Radio does this.

Pre-Recorded outdated promos. Radio’s got those in droves!

DJs that talk too much. Radio’s got ‘em.

DJs in multiple locations. Yep..

Dead Air. Sure.

Celebrity DJs. Requests. Listen call-ins. Social media engagement. Radio does all that too.

What exactly is the innovation here?

It’s week one, so we’ll give them time to get settled and check back in next month or so. Meantime, if you hear something truly unique let me know.


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  1. July 4, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    Apple hasn’t actually innovated (changed the world) since the original iPhone – but I understand the halo persists.

    Still – every Apple product launch carries the same DNA – missing features.

    In addition to what you already mentioned – here’s a few more missing features of Beats1 Radio:

    Programming designed exclusively to game a faulty ratings system

    3 – 8 Minute Commercial Breaks per hour

    Cars for Kids/Ashly Madison/Erectile Dysfunction/Payday Loan commercials

    Meaningless giveaways

    Big over-produced promos for meaningless giveaways

    Pithy liner card reading “Jocks” sleep-walking through 4 hour on-air shift

    The need to follow every new song with 3 songs you’ve already heard 1000x

    Pointless Legal IDs

    The same format you can already hear on 1000s of stations across the US

    Sometimes “Innovation” isn’t in the new things you add – but in the stuff you remove.

    Let’s hope Beats1 refuses to add back these features. 😉

    • July 4, 2015 at 2:33 PM

      Admittedly the Jobs/innovation remark is likely perception v. reality, but that’s the brand promise Apple has created. At least to me.

      Innovation isn’t subtraction, that’s editing, which is an important point and one US radio could stand to apply.

      I always appreciate your perspective.

  2. July 4, 2015 at 12:58 PM

    Jeff – the iPhone. Yep. Well, technically, that offered nothing more than the Nokia I owned at the time. It just got the user interface right. The polish. The innovation was understanding what users want, and giving it to them.

    I have countless graphs showing that simulcast radio online is not growing. At all. Users provably don’t want it.

    I have countless graphs showing that “radio with a skip button” (Pandora, NPR One, podcasts, and the list goes on) is increasing. Users provably want an interactive experience on the most interactive device they own: a device which is almost never out of arm’s reach.

    Apple simply isn’t giving people what they want here. That’s the difference. There’s no innovation. It’s a me-too product from the least me-too company in the world. And that’s a disappointment.

    [Oh: and most non-US radio has none of that crap on it in the first place.]

  3. July 6, 2015 at 4:38 AM

    radio has a very limited broadcast range. If I’m sitting at a desk all day, I should turn on the radio. If I’m mobile and traveling, I’m probably going to want a streaming service that has the ability to travel with me.

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