Metal Tech

Apple Announces Streaming Music Service, iTunes Radio; Too Little Too Late


iTunes Radio

Apple has finally announced a streaming music service, ending months of speculation. The service, iTunes Radio, will be similar to Pandora: users will be able to create “stations” based on one artist that will play songs by that band and similar bands, and over time the software will learn a user’s preferences by the way they rate each song. Unlike Spotify, Rdio and the recently announced Google Play Music All Access, users will not be able to select the exact songs they want to hear on demand.

I have one question: Why? Pandora has been running their streaming radio service for nearly a decade and just passed 200 million users; what’s going to be so great about iTunes Radio that users are going to want to switch over? Apple is betting that 1) Their built in audience of existing iTunes users will give them leverage, and 2) Through in-product call-outs, they’ll sell boatloads of iTunes Store downloads to iTunes Radio users.

But the ship has sailed, Pandora already owns the streaming radio space and no one wants mp3 downloads anymore. The future is in streaming a la carte, i.e. Spotify and Google Play, but the head honchos at Apple are too wedded to their download store cash cow to risk moving in another direction. iTunes Radio’s sole purpose seems to be to funnel users into spending more money at the iTunes download store, which is kind of akin to record labels trying to milk every last ounce out of CDs five years ago.

What’s more, Apple’s new service will only be available for iTunes, iOS and Apple TV, unlike Spotify, Rdio, Google Play, Pandora and oh wait EVERY OTHER SERVICE, all of which are available to users on all platforms and devices (notable exception: Google Play isn’t on the iPhone).

I say all this as an unabashed Apple fanboy of the past 20 years. It hurts a little bit to see such an innovative company so behind in their game, pushing an outdated business model.

iTunes Radio will be free, so at least there’s that, but users will be subjected to ads. iTunes Match subscribers will not have to see or hear advertisements. The service is expected to be released this coming fall along with iOS 7.

[Wired, via Metal Insider]

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