Apple Looks To A Music Streaming Future
September 7, 2012

Coming Soon To Your iPhone 5: Apple Radio

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Internet radio streaming service Pandora has long been a fan favorite among many loyal iPhone users. Apple, too, has been a fan of Pandora, showing off their service during press events.

When Apple announced their new App Store, allowing third-party developers to write applications for the iPhone, Pandora was one of the first in the App Store. When Apple “Finally” announced “multi-tasking” with iOS 4, they used Pandora in a demonstration, switching from the Pandora app to a second app without having the music stop.

It was a magical moment in iPhone history.

Then, when Apple announced iAd, Pandora quickly began using this service, becoming a major outlet for Apple´s own little advertising service.

Last night, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times (listed in order of appearance) reported that Apple likes the idea of Internet streaming radio so much, they´re going to announce a service of their own design in the coming months.

Similar to Pandora, UK-based subscription model service Spotify announced their own streaming radio service, allowing listeners to create “stations” based on artists, genres or even individual songs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has only recently begun the process of reaching out to the record labels and settling royalty deals and, as such, this deal might not ever see the light of day.

The Journal then goes on to mention that Apple has looked at similar services in the past, such as a subscription-based model (like Spotify, Rhapsody or rdio) which allows users to more or less “rent” their music for a monthly fee. While these listeners don´t own the music they listen to, their monthly fee does open up the doors to a service´s entire catalog, making nearly any song available for instant listening. As the world´s largest online music retailer, Apple´s catalog could be enormous, possibly trumping those of their rivals, Pandora and Spotify.

According to the Times, this announcement caught some analysts by surprise as they don´t see Internet radio as a huge potential money maker.

According to the Journal, though Pandora is incredibly popular and has the largest listener base of any other service mentioned in this article, (54.9 million) they´ve also yet to turn a profit as they´ve had to pay out hefty royalty fees to the record labels.

An Apple-branded music streaming service might not have to earn them millions of dollars, however. With 400 million iTunes accounts and iOS devices scattered all over the world, an Apple streaming service could be just another benefit of being an Apple user. Such an announcement could say to Apple users, “Not only do you get to take advantage of the world´s largest App store, we´re also opening the doors to the world´s largest music store.”

In addition to rumors of an impending iTunes redesign, some have even claimed Apple will begin installing Wi-Fi antennas in their super-small iPod Nano players. Such a service could make the iPod Nano an incredibly affordable, super portable streaming device. With iTunes integration, a streaming service could also be huge for their digital music sales, allowing listeners to tap one button to download the song directly to their device.

Apple will be holding an event next Wednesday, September 12th where they will almost certainly announce a new iPhone. They´ve also been rumored to hold an October event wherein they could announce the rumored iPad Mini and possibly new iPods.

While the Journal suggests this service won´t be ready for several months, such an announcement could be a great companion to a media-themed iPad Mini, iPod announcement. In fact, by itself, this service might not make sense out of context. It´s too large to simply roll out one day in an app update without proper announcement, and too small to dedicate an entire event to. Though this service might not make Apple their next $1 billion, it could be a welcome addition to any iPhone toting music fan.