|With the iPhone 5 release date quickly descending upon us comes the news of a new Apple streaming radio service a la Pandora Radio, which is to say like Pandora but not coming from Pandora. Apple's streaming radio would have virtual stations that recommend music based on the user choosing an artist, then the streaming radio service will play similar music and match further songs by likes from the user. The story broke from the The Wall Street Journal, with their saying that "Apple Inc is in talks to license music for a custom-radio service similar to the popular one operated by Pandora Media." There's no mention of a release date or a final product, only that Apple is in talks.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Apple is so freaking behind the times in terms of streaming music but is so well positioned to be the 8 million pound gorilla in not only streaming music but streaming video like movies and TV shows. Cannibalize iTunes music store downloads you say? So what! Ownership is possibly a relic of the past, as any streaming music person will tell you. At the least, its one option out of many new options that have arrived over the years. Why should I want to buy and own an album for $10 when I can pay $10 a month to get access to not only most albums that were released in a given month but every album that has ever been released ever (with a few holdouts withstanding)? In an always connected world of mobile devices, that now have spread from the desktop to mobile phones and tablets, and even beyond to car stereos and home stereos (still waiting for an app in my toaster), why do I even need to even maintain a download library? It's so messy, the more I listen the bigger it becomes and harder to manage. Streaming is easy, clean and efficient. Connect and listen, period. Plus, we all know that Apple makes money by selling the hardware i.e. the devices like iPad and iPhone, so an Apple streaming radio would help them to further that.
Which is why Apple is perfectly poised to enter sometime over the next year. It's probably no surprise that word of this leaked the week before the iPhone 5 release, Apple could have leaked it for a combination of leverage on rights negotiations with the big music labels, plus it doubles down as pre-iPhone 5 release hype. Once the iPhone 5 comes out, Apple could have the upper hand in negotiations with the labels. The Apple vs Pandora fight seemed almost unimaginable a year ago, with the new iPhone 5 release it could be more likely than we think.