Amazon.com announced this morning that Apple Music is coming to the Echo and other Alexa-powered smart devices, starting December 17.
“Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa,” Amazon senior vice president Dave Limp notes in a prepared statement. “Since we launched Alexa four years ago, customers are listening to more music in their homes than ever before.”
Amazon.com paved the way for this change via improvements to both its Alexa technologies and its relationship with Apple.
On the technology front, Amazon opened up Alexa to more third-party music services when it released its Music Skill API last month. This skill enables services to use a wide range of Alexa capabilities across different smart device types, including multi-room audio, visual search on Echo Show and Spot, using music for alarms, and more.
More recently, Amazon took a major step in its often-contentious relationships with competitors when it reached a deal with Apple to sell the consumer electronics giant’s products via its online store. That said, Amazon doesn’t sell Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, which competes directly with Echo.
This is a mutually beneficial agreement, for sure: Amazon’s own music subscription service isn’t particularly successful since Echo owners get a subset of the service for free. And Apple’s HomePod has sold poorly as well, leading to questions about its future. Getting Apple Music on one of the most successful smart speaker platforms is a good hedge against that possibility.