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EE pushes further into content delivery with Apple Music tie-up

Mobile network operator will offer six months of Apple Music free to new and upgrading customers as it expands into content provision

Mobile network operator EE has struck a deal with Apple to offer new and upgrading customers on iOS and Android smartphones a free six-month subscription to the Apple Music streaming service.

The offer will apply to customers on both pay-monthly and SIM-only plans, and will also work across iPad, Apple TV, Mac and PC devices. Users will be given full access to the Apple Music app and will be able to stream tracks over both 4G and Wi-Fi, or download to play back later.

Like its new owner, BT – which shook up the world of sport when it launched BT Sport in 2013 and bagged the rights to a number of Premier League matches, ending years of dominance by Sky – EE has seen a move into content delivery as a way to stand out from the field, and tempt users away from services that do not generate revenue for it.

At the end of the six-month trial period, users will be charged £9.99 a month to continue to access the service.

The operator said the size and scale of its 4G network – which remains the most extensive in the UK – made it viable to offer a data-heavy service such as Apple Music on a wide scale.

“As the UK’s biggest and fastest network, our focus is on bringing our customers the best 4G coverage in the most places,” said EE CEO Marc Allera.

“But we also look to bring our customers services from the best companies in the world. In Apple Music there is no doubt we have found that, and together we will provide customers with an outstanding music experience on the biggest and fastest mobile network in the UK.”

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CCS Insight analyst Kester Mann said the move strengthened EE’s position at the premium end of the market, and noted the apt timing of its announcement, a few weeks before Apple is expected to launch the seventh generation of iPhone.

“This move confirms an evolution in EE’s strategy beyond simply network leadership,” said Mann. “It may have been part-motivated by the established position already taken in content by rivals, notably Vodafone, which has built its 4G strategy around deals with Netflix, Sky Sports and Spotify.

“Coverage and speed have so far dominated EE’s marketing, but this advantage will eventually narrow. It has moved swiftly to capitalise on the increasingly relevant content market, which should be applauded.”

For Apple, said Mann, the deal backed up a growing focus on services, which is now the supplier’s second-biggest product category behind the iPhone.

The supplier has similar arrangements to offer Apple Music through Telstra in Australia, and T-Mobile in the US. ..........................................

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