Apple planning streaming music radio service

Posted by Mark Raby

Apple is reportedly working on an Internet radio service, and there's a reason people are referring to it as the "Pandora killer."

In news that absolutely has to be devastating to the current leader in online radio, Bloomberg is reporting that Apple wants to leverage the myriad contracts it has with record labels to provide an online service that would allow users to stream unlimited music.

Of course, Apple's current place in the digital music market is as a digital distribution retailer. It sells individual tracks, or full digital tracks, on a pay-per-song basis.

Players like Pandora have had no reason to fear Apple, because they are playing a completely different game. Pandora's free ad-supported service has become a staple for users who want to listed to as much music as possible, as opposed to listening to only the select few tracks they have paid for.

Spotify is another example of this kind of platform, but it is really Pandora that has dominated the Internet radio scene, with integration into online-connected TVs, in-car entertainment systems, portable music players, and much more.

If Apple steps into that field, it could really spell trouble for Pandora. Then again, there is some question as to whether or not it would make business sense for Apple. By all accounts, it sold tens of billions of dollars worth of digital music last year. So why would it risk dumbing down that side of its business for something that could potentially not generate as much revenue?

This will certainly be an interesting development to watch.