"Could Eddy's [Cue] team have built a subscription service? Of course." That's what Apple CEO Tim Cook told the New York Times today following the announcement that it had acquired Beats Electronics. But the fact of the matter remains, the company didn't. Instead it went out and purchased a pre-existing service. As the digital music industry shifted away from paying for individual tracks and albums towards an all-you-can-eat model, iTunes stuck to its guns. That's left Cupertino in the slightly odd position of not being at the forefront of innovation in the industry. Observers have been suggesting that Apple would launch it's own Spotify killer any day now, but Tim Cook seems to believe the company's resources would be better used else where. "We could've built those 27 other things ourselves, too," referencing the 27 other companies acquired over the last year, "you don't build everything yourself." That's especially true if you think that you're buying the "first subscription service that really got it right," as he told Re/code.

At least for now Cook appears content to let Beats Music be his hat in the subscription ring, but we imagine those existing licensing agreements and streaming systems will eventually find their way into an Apple-branded offering. Obviously this gives Cupertino a bit of a head start when it comes to subscription music, and its deep pockets should make expanding Beats' reach quick and easy. But, for Cook the purchase is less about the specific product, and more about adding Iovine and Dre's talents to the Apple roster. "They provide us with incredible people, that don't grow on trees," he said explaining that, "it's not what Apple and Beats are doing today. It's what we believe pairing the two together can produce for the future," that has him truly excited.

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Tim Cook says Apple could have built a subscription music service, but didn't need to