As the dust settles around Apple and Beats, a few settling points

beats audio and apple 300wApple‘s acquisition of Beats brought out more anticipation, speculation, and commentary than any business or product news story since the launch of iTunes Radio in September. It’s as if a unique two-headed creature rose out of the earth for all to wonder at. As the dust settles, a few points worth noting:

MOG is unplugged

MOG, a pioneering on-demand streaming service, founded in 2005 and acquired  by Beats Electronics in 2012, was unplugged over the weekend. Everyone knew it was coming, and MOG subscribers have been encouraged to migrate over to Beats Music for the last few months. The option to transfer existing playlist from MOG to Beats has now been shut off.

The siphoning of MOG users to Beats, lured by the promise of a two-month free trial (much longer than the two weeks offered to most new users) calls into question Jimmy Iovine’s claim of 250,000 Beats subscribers — not the number itself, necessarily, but what it represents. Nobody has unpacked that number to disclose how many “subscribers” are in free trials, either via MOG’s on-ramp or the inducements offered to AT&T customers.

At any rate, a once-prominent, trailblazing music service is now formally, officially out of business — a reminder of how fleeting success can be in the music-service business.

Whither Beats execs?

In all the noise and publicity surrounding last week’s joining of Apple and Beats (unfinalized until passing regulatory review), Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers was oddly absent from the interview and public-comment space. As co-founders, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre are the celebrity executives and spokespeople for the Beats brand. It was Iovine who did most of the talking last week, with Dre perhaps eased into the background following his indiscreet “first billionaire rapper” outburst which might have interfered with merger negotiations.

It is noteworthy when a headline company’s CEO does not participate in press comments. That said, Rogers was not altogether silent through last week’s events; his Twitter stream announced the deal and promoted the public appearances by Iovine and Apple leaders.

SIDE NOTE: Speaking of Twitter, Justin Frankl (founder of Nullsoft and developer of Winamp and Shoutcast, as well as the infamous file-sharing platform Gnutella) noted that the Apple/Beats acquisition was announced exactly 15 years (to the day) after Nullsoft was bought by AOL. (Winamp and Shoutcast were sold to Radionomy in January.)

Michael Wolff’s perspective

This must-read piece is by veteran author and media observer Michael Wolff, in USA Today. Wolff’s forecast for Jimmy Iovine’s Apple career: “Easy prediction: He’s gone in 12 months.” But there is much more analysis of the streaming-music business, hoped-for synergy of the two companies, and Apple’s quest for lost “cool.”

Brad Hill