Apple CEO Tim Cook says algorithm-driven playlists are lacking humanity, in an apparent broadside at streaming rival Spotify.
In comments issued to Fast Company, Cook said he prefers the human-curated content shared with Apple Music subscribers, rather than the ‘bits and bytes’ approach adopted by rivals.
Cook didn’t mention Spotify by name, but the interview was for an extensive profile of the Swedish company’s CEO Daniel Ek.
“Music inspires, it motivates. It’s also the thing at night that helps quiet me. I think it’s better than any medicine,” Cook said. “We worry about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft.”
Related: Apple Music vs Spotify
The Apple boss added that his firm, which doesn’t offer any free tiers on Apple Music, is “not in it for the money.”
On the contrary, Spotify’s entire business rests upon its ability to attract paid Premium subscribers and ad-funded Free users. Apple is less concerned about whether its streaming business makes money. The company made $14 billion in profit during the last quarter alone, while Spotify is yet to turn a profit. During the same period it lost 394m Euros.
Cook’s comments are interesting considering similar accusations have been levelled at Apple in the past.
The launch of the iPod effectively killed off the physical format for an entire generation of music fans, with digital downloads also spelling doom for record stores around the world. That definitely didn’t damage the humanity of music did it?
Meanwhile, the ability to choose any low-quality track from a library of thousands meant that the ‘art and craft’ of putting together an album faded into insignificance.
Meanwhile, the iTunes Music store and its DRM rules that placed restrictions on where and how people could listen to the music that they’d paid for was awesome for the ‘humanity’ of music too, right?
Could all this it just be because Spotify’s algorithms make better playlists than Apple’s humans, Tim? Or because Spotify still has more paying subscribers than Apple Music, despite the latter being built into every iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS device that leaves Cupertino?
Do you think this is sour grapes from Tim Cook? Or do you prefer playlists and recommendations from human editors rather than ‘bits and bytes’? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.