Apple rumoured to be working on an internet radio service

7 Sep 2012

Apple is reportedly in licensing talks with music labels to lay the groundwork for an internet radio service that it plans to launch. While there are many online music services out there, the one Apple seems to be targeting is Pandora, which plays music based on songs or artists the users likes.

Pandora’s free radio service is supported by advertising and, according to The Wall Street Journal’s sources, Apple will follow the same model.

Apple revolutionised digital music with the launch of iTunes followed by the release of the iPod in 2001. The iTunes Music Store is now the world’s largest music retailer, but the rising popularity of music-streaming services like Pandora and Spotify is seeing users turn to other platforms.

Negotiating royalties

Pandora has 54.9m users but has never reported a profit owing to the amount it has to pay out in royalties. Where Pandora pays rates set by the government, though, Apple is reportedly in the process of negotiating more manageable licence deals with music labels.

Apple already recommends songs based on user purchases through iTunes Genius, so creating personal radio stations for users based on this would not be the most difficult part, securing deals with the creators will. If successful, Apple could launch an app or in-browser service in a matter of months.

Filling the gap

Citing “people familiar with the matter”, The WSJ claims the service could stretch further than Apple’s mobile devices to Mac computers and even PCs (perhaps those with iTunes installed). However, the source made it clear that the service would not be available on Android devices, actively excluding Apple’s competitor.

If this service does arrive, the key question for Irish users will be availability. Pandora currently does not have rights to broadcast beyond the US, and Spotify has been dragging its feet when it comes to launching in Ireland. Could Apple fill the gap for Irish users?

Digital music image via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.