If you love your streaming radio services like Pandora or Spotify, but you'd like a little more selection -- be aware that a new 800-pound gorilla is getting in on the streaming radio game. Apple is reportedly in secret talks with the record labels to start their own streaming radio service that intends to blow Spotify and Pandora out of the stream.
Does anyone think Apple can knock off Pandora? Apparently so. Pandora's stock is down nearly 20% today with this news, which is not even an announcement. It's just a report that popped up in today's Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal report simply notes that Apple is "in talks to license music" from the major record labels, though the Journal's sources on the inside insist that Apple is starting a Pandora competitor. The service would reportedly work similarly to Pandora, where users can tune into free "stations" that interpret your taste, and make music recommendations based on your apparent preferences.
The fact that Apple is intitiating an obvious copycat service makes me see that whole Apple vs Samsung patent battle in a completely different light.
The service, according to the Wall Street Journal, would be built into iTunes and would work on your iPhone, iPad, Mac computer, or even Windows computer. It would very specifically not work on an Android phone, according to the Journal.
It's curious that Apple would try to break into this market, considering that Pandora has never shown a profit. Apple has made similar attempts to enhance iTunes with a streaming service, and these attempts have not gone particularly well. Did you ever even pay attention to that Ping sidebar that used to show up on the right hand side of your iTunes interface?
Apple realizes the value of streaming radio, though, and they've got the firepower to strike agreements with any artist or label. Let's say you're really into the Beatles -- if you start a Pandora station for the Beatles, you will only hear one actual Beatles song during a roughly 45 minute period. Pandora operates under licensing rules that dictate their stations can only play a certain artist four times during a three-hour period. Apple has the ability to write big checks, and get themselves far more generous licensing deals with artists and labels.
Simply put, an Apple streaming radio service stands to give listeners lots more of what they want.
Bloomberg additionally reports that Apple is going to overhaul the iTunes store later this year, with new features for users to share music with one another.