Apple SVP Eddy Cue and Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine discussed Steve Jobs' legacy, Beats' ill-fated partnership with mobile phone provider HTC and Spotify's recently announced subscription numbers, among other things, during the Code Conference on Wednesday.
Sitting down with journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Cue and Iovine opened the discussion (documented on both 9to5mac and the New York Times from which this report was compiled) by contrasting Apple earbuds and Beats headphones. "I worked for 10 years with Apple engineers to try to make the sound of iTunes better," said Iovine. Adding later that if you use the free earbuds that come with the iPhone to “listen to ‘Apocalypse Now,' a helicopter sounds like a mosquito."
"Both [Beats co-founder Dr.] Dre and Jimmy have an incredible ear for sound," Cue said. "Beats makes amazing headphones."
From there, talk moved to hard numbers. At four months old, Beats has some 250,000 subscribers, Iovine claimed, well over double the 111,000 subscription base previously reported. (The company also claims five million people have given the service a trial run.) When Mossberg asked about Spotify's growth versus downloads' slowdown, Cue said the following: "Number one, the fact that music sales [are] going away or [are] severely going down is way overrated. Apple just crossed 35 billion songs sold this past week. 40 million iTunes Radio listeners in U.S. and Australia, and we’re going to grow internationally."
On Spotify, Iovine noted that "Spotify should have 10 million people in America” rather than 10 million paying customers globally -- a business model he does not agree with.
He then addressed HTC's $300 million investment in Beats in 2011, which the Taiwanese company wound up selling back to Beats over the course of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. “It was really a culture clash,” Iovine said, according to Re/code. “It crashed and burned. It didn’t work out.”
“We needed a partner,” he added, pointing out that Beats' contract with Monster was ending at that point. “HTC was very interested and I always felt the only chance that music had was through the telephone.”
As for the late Steve Jobs, Cue thinks the current Apple personnel and product lineup would have done the Apple founder proud. "When I look at what he set up at Apple and what we're doing, I think he'd be extremely proud of all the work we're doing today and the products that we're building. We're continuing the legacy that he built." (see video below)
On Wednesday, Apple officially announced its $3 billion acquisition of Beats and the appointment of Iovine and Dr. Dre to unspecified executive positions at the company.