Are HTC and Beats readying a streaming music service to take on Spotify?

Beats by Dre Audio Iovine HTC Following HTC’s $300 million partnership with Beats Audio, rumors abound that the phone maker is preparing a new streaming music service to compete with the likes of Spotify. Sources tell Gigaom.com that Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, and a co-owner of Beats Audio, has been working closely with HTC to develop the service. After Beats Audio’s less-than-harmonious split from former partner Monster, the company is said to be looking to expand aggressively in the mobile world, and HTC, by acquiring a substantial interest in the headphone maker, is looking more and more like the chosen partner.

Losing steam

HTC has long been a peculiar and potentially disruptive force in the mobile world. An early adopter of Android, the phone maker has been customizing and enhancing user experience with its Sense UI ever since the days of Windows Mobile. Its television commercials aptly play to the emotional experience inherent to the modern mobile phone — objects we use intimately and carry with us day in and day out — and it has keenly crafted an image of itself as a lifestyle company, clearly taking a page from the Book of Jobs.

Which is all the more disappointing now that the Taiwanese company has hit a rough patch. Earnings were down more than 50 percent compared to just one year ago. Profits fell 26 percent in the last three months of 2011 alone — a startling and precipitous decline. Apple scored a major patent infringement judgment in December that will bar certain HTC phones from being sold in the US, and its 4G LTE phones have been riddled with issues such as poor battery life, prompting the CFO to assure consumers that in 2012, “using these LTE phones won’t mean having a compromise.”

Reviews for the first HTC phones featuring new Beats tech have been less than stellar, and so far the audio technology only works with HTC’s own music player — not the Android Market’s abundant third-party music apps. The announcement of a streaming service, however, could tie HTC’s entire line of phones and upcoming tablets together under the umbrella of a music player that travels with you wherever you go. Beats by Dre headphones have become a raving success, thanks in large part to their stylish design, and Beats branding, along with a killer music service, could potentially help HTC revive its fortunes.

The beat goes on

Not to say that Beats Audio isn’t getting something out of a potential deal as well (apart from the large infusion of cash): Iovine, a singular persona in the music business, is in the unique position to draw record companies into a deal with another streaming service to rival Spotify. HTC, with its established mobile presence and lifestyle ambitions, is the perfect partner. As Iovine alluded last year in an interview with the The Los Angeles Times, “Music on the cellphone should sound and feel great and we don’t want you to just download bad-sounding MP3s and play them on bad-sounding $3 earbuds. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a phone or a tablet and listen to music out of $3 earbuds? It just doesn’t add up.”

The fact remains that a new streaming service will live and die by the licensing deals it can manage with major record labels. Spotify’s success owes in large part to the massive trove of new and old music available through that service — if anyone can compete on this level, it’s Jimmy Iovine. With literally the entire catalogue of Interscope Geffen A&M music at his disposal, and a name brand (and wildly popular) audio product to lead the marketing campaign, HTC may have hitched itself to a winning horse. Like Monster before it, HTC may simply be the conduit for another Beats revolution. Although pricing for the rumored service is still unknown, we expect HTC will make an announcement during the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February. 

Image Credit: LA Times/Getty Images

Mobile

Google’s new $999 augmented reality smartglasses are ready for business

Google unveiled Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, a new version of its business-focused augmented reality wearable. The company's smartglasses ship with a faster processor, an updated camera, and safety frames from Smith Optics.
Gaming

The best iOS games you can play offline on your iPhone and iPad

Even though we're always glued to our phones, we don't always have access to Wi-Fi or have steady service. Whether you're on a flight, riding the bus, or sitting in a waiting room, you can always play these excellent iOS games.
Mobile

The Commerce Department implements a temporary reprieve to Huawei

Google has severed most of its partnerships with Huawei, after its addition to the "Entity List" of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Future Huawei devices will lose access to the Google Play Store, Chrome, and Android updates.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for May 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for May 2018.
Mobile

Some Pixel 3a owners say their new phone is randomly shutting down

Some owners of Google's new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones are complaining that their devices are randomly shutting down. The mid-range handsets hit the market just two weeks ago.
Mobile

Here's our first look at the Galaxy Note 10's centered selfie camera

The Samsung Galaxy S10 range was only just revealed, but Samsung is already working on the next big release. Not much is known about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 just yet, but we do have a few details.
Product Review

It's a shame the U.S. banned Huawei. The new Honor 20 Pro is a kick-ass phone

Where does Honor go after the Honor View 20, the best device it has ever made? The answer is the Honor 20 Pro, which takes what made the View 20 great, and then improves on it by adding more camera lenses and shrinking the size.
Deals

Best Memorial Day sales 2019: Walmart, Dell, and Home Depot start early

If you're looking to save big on some shiny new stuff for Memorial Day 2019, we've gathered everything you need to know into one place. Find out where to save the most money before the summer hits its stride.
Mobile

OnePlus 7 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: Which Android powerhouse is for you?

If you're after a real powerhouse of a smartphone, then you've probably considered the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. But you could save yourself some cash by opting for the OnePlus 7 Pro. Find out what sets these phones apart in our comparison.
Photography

Adobe Premiere Rush now allows Android users to edit video without the laptop

After launching on desktop and iOS, Adobe Premiere Rush, a streamlined video editor, is now available on Android. Premiere Rush is designed for social media projects and non-professional editors.
Mobile

The Honor 20 Pro is here with four camera lenses and a hole-punch screen

Honor has launched the Honor 20 Pro and the Honor 20 at an event taking place in London. The new smartphone is surprisingly compact, with an impressive four-lens camera for taking stunning shots, day or night.
Mobile

Leaks show a new, bright cardinal red version of the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Product Review

Lenovo’s Smart Tab P10 offers Android and Alexa but masters neither

If you’ve always fancied a smart display, but you need an Android tablet as well, then the Lenovo Smart Tab P10 could be the affordable device you’ve been dreaming of. Yet obsolete software and mediocre performance hold it back.
Mobile

The best OnePlus 7 Pro screen protectors to stop scratches, dirt, and cracks

The OnePlus 7 Pro has a stunning Fluid AMOLED display that's absolutely worth gazing at. But it's not going to be pleasant if cracks obscure your view. Protect your new phone with the best OnePlus 7 Pro screen protectors.