Despite Apple deal, Beats updates Android app, plans on using Samsung shill LeBron James in ads

LeBron James (Beats headphones 001)

Looks like Tim Cook wasn’t joking when he told The Financial Times Apple would keep alive Beats Music apps for Android and Windows Phone platforms. Keep in mind that Cook made that promise after Apple snapped up Beats’ streaming-music service, headphones, brand and talent in a $3 billion transaction.

Indeed, Beats has now issued an update to its Android client, the first refresh post-acquisition. But that’s not all: it seems Beats will continue to feature Samsung endorser and Miami Heat cager LeBron James in future advertising…

A report earlier this week by ESPN claimed that LeBron is poised to take home a cool $30+ million in cash and stock after Apple announced buying Beats Electronics and Beats Music for $3 billion.

The sum, by some estimates, files as the biggest equity cash payout in sports history for a pro athlete.

The basketball superstar claims the sum based on a 2008 deal to promote Beats headphones in exchange for an ownership stake in the firm.

Moreover, Beats confirmed last week plans to continue using the Miami Heat sensation in future advertising for the brand. LeBron, as you know, is a Samsung shill, so it will be interesting seeing how all of this unfolds and whether Apple might object to this decision.

I guess not, judging by Tim Cook’s tweet promoting Beats’ World Cup television ad for the Solo2 and Studio headphones, titled “The Game Before the Game”. In addition to Beats headphones, the five-minute commercial prominently features Apple’s iPhone 5s and stars a number of athletes, including Brazilian soccer star Neymar Jr. and LeBron James.

At any rate, it’s kinda reassuring knowing Cook is cool, for the time being, with LeBron promoting Beats – in spite of the player’s appearance in Samsung’s “The Next Big Thing” Super Bowl ad.

On the other hand, things could change as soon as Apple closes the Beats buy – pending regulatory approval – in its fiscal fourth quarter, which ends in September.

Making things even more interesting, LeBron can be seen pushing Beats’ new $149.95 Powerbeats 2 Bluetooth headphones, their first pair of wireless earphones.

Billed as “workout headphones inspired by LeBron James,” the Powerbeats 2 feature Beats’ signature sound, offer a rechargeable battery for six hours of playback and sport flexible earhooks for a more secure fit.

Beats Powerbeats (image 001)

“After years of breaking earbuds during his workouts, LeBron James teamed up with Dr. Dre in creating Powerbeats earphones,” reads the Beats website.

“Music is one of my main motivations when I work out, and I know others can relate because music takes people to a different place that inspires more energy and focus,” James told PCMag.

As for Beats Music, despite the service now essentially an Apple product, the Android client (pictured below) last night received its first refresh post-acquisition.

Beats Music 1.1 for Android (screenshot 003)Beats Music 1.1 for Android (screenshot 002)Beats Music 1.1 for Android (screenshot 001)

Beats Music for Android version 1.1, available on the Google Play Store now, adds new features like improved playback, landscape mode, refined Just For You recommendations, the ability to save offline downloads to an external SD card or between an SD card and internal device storage and more.

Maybe all of this is part of Apple’s newly found openness, first signaled by WWDC news of custom iOS 8keyboards, App Extensions, third-party image and video filters in the stock Photos app and what not?