With Apple now having reportedly signed deals with three of the world’s major music labels – Universal, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment – giving the rights for the company to both publish and stream the entire catalogs of the labels involved, the stage appears just about set for Apple to (finally) announce its radio-music streaming service – which most publications are tentatively referring to as “iRadio.”
iRadio: What We Know So Far …
- Apple’s iRadio Service Could Begin Broadcast In 2013 – [RUMOR]
- Apple Strikes iRadio Deal With Universal Music (CNET)
- NYT: Apple Signs New Deal With Warner Music Group For ‘iRadio’ Service
- Bloomberg: ‘iRadio’ To Arrive FREE and Ad-Supported.
- WSJ: Apple Signs New Deal With Sony Music Entertainment
Continuing the speculation surrounding the rumored streaming service, Forbes has this weekend published a new article, entitled: “5 Reasons Why Apple Will Announce iRadio At Monday’s WWDC Keynote.”
I don’t know about you, but that headline sounds like someone knows something that we don’t. Okay, perhaps not .. but, it’s certainly a pretty confident statement from “content strategist, designer and developer,” Anthony Wing Kosner.
Citing that what will be presented next week may be “less impressive than Tim Cook or Jony Ive have been aiming for,” the first reason Kosner gives for Apple to launch “iRadio” (or, more likely, “Apple Radio”), at WWDC is that it’s the “Best [Apple's] Got.”
“Sorry to be a downer, but another streaming music service is not the next iPhone or an iWatch. And given reports about the delays in iOS 7 and the high number of preliminary builds of OSX 10.9, it may be that what will be presented next week is less impressive than Tim Cook or Jony Ive have been aiming for,” Kosner writes.
“So the fact that Apple has made deals with the three big music companies for a streaming service is likely its biggest coup to crow about,” he concludes.
Really? – I’m not being pedantic when I say this, but if a “music-streaming” radio tie-in service is the “best” Apple’s got after nearly 8-months of “radio silence” (excuse the pun), that’s pretty lame.
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is usually heavily focused on software, granted. However, Apple has not yet released any new hardware during this calendar year. Plus, even if the conference is entirely software-focused, I’d expect something which tops a Rdio/Spotify clone.
iOS 7, OS X 10.9, Apple TV Software Upgrade? …
I’m already subscribed to Rdio. Why do I need “iRadio”?
Surely they’ll have something more for us.
Next Up: “It’s All About the iAds”
“Music has become the skeleton key to marketing in the internet era. Tell me what kind of music you like and I can probably predict all kinds of other kinds of products you will find appealing. “iRadio,” which is rumored to be an ad-supported free service, would be an opportunity for Apple to ramp up its iAds platform.”
I’ll give Kosner this one. Apple’s iAds platform was great at showing what interactive advertising on mobile could look like in the future. The reality, however, is that users simple don’t like ads. Case and point: You Gotta’ See This, which was forced to remove its iAds framework just a few weeks ago due to reportedly being inundated with user complaints.
“Apple started iAds to support its developers with in-app advertising, so an expansion of the program with even more relevant user data is certainly of interest to WWDC attendees.” Kosner continues. “The expectation of higher-quality advertising metrics could have been part of the sweetener for Apple’s deal with the record labels as well.”
Kosner’s next reason for Apple to introduce the service in front of the developer crowd on Monday, touches briefly on why Apple’s “iRadio” service may even appeal to those who may already have a Rdio, Spotify and Pandora account.
Reason 3: A New Kind of “Media” App
First, Kosner says that we should think for a moment that Apple is not going to open the Apple TV to developers, and instead look at the introduction of “iRadio” as “setting the stage for a new kind of content-centric app of the type that [could potentially] populate the eventual TV App Store.”
The advantage over other streaming services in this case?
“Two of the advantages that Apple has over Pandora, Spotify and Rdio are the size of its installed base and of its developer community,” Kosner highlights.
“Leveraging those two together, it is not hard to imagine Apple allowing developers to create apps that are the equivalent of radio stations, but each with their own content sources or curation methods (partaking from some common APIs) and each with its own balance of built-in monetization methods. This would foster a far larger and more diverse ecosystem of “stations” than Apple (or its competitors) could conceive of in-house and yet more consolidated than Pandora’s channel-based-on-anything approach,” he says.
I see where Kosner is going here. Apple introducing its radio service on Monday opens the door for the service coming to Apple TV in the future, when the company (finally) opens the device up to third-party developers. Apple is already said to be preparing to sign deals with advertisers to deliver both audio and video ads through the service — perhaps the same ad network will be present throughout TV-based apps.
Lets not also forget that Apple already offers a “radio” service to its millions of iTunes customers, today. In fact, it’s built right into the software. Guess what it’s also built into? – That’s right, Apple TV. It’s a streaming radio service in which users can select a radio station based on thier preferences.
The difference in this service and Apple’s rumored service is its (reported) integration with the iTunes Music Store, and one-click purchasing of the track you’re currently listening to.
Reason 4: “More Glue for the iPhone”
Quite rightly, Kosner highlights that the introduction of the service next week could also be another way to “keep users in Apple’s ecosystem for [an extended period of time].”
“For developers,” he says, “the high level of attachment to [,(and engagement of),] users with their iOS devices, the iPhone in particular, [is] an important factor mitigating against Android’s growing market share. Anything that continues to foster elevated engagement levels is good news for developers.”
I totally agree with that.
Final Reason: “Another Use for Your Apple TV”
Kosner concludes his “5 Reasons Why Apple Will Announce iRadio At Monday’s WWDC Keynote,” by noting that the company could just as easily add the service to the Apple TV’s homescreen, replacing the device’s current radio integration for a cloud-based, music-streaming alternative.
“Finally, even without a full refresh to the Apple TV or the opening of a TV App Store, Apple could easily make ‘iRadio’ a default built-in app for the Apple TV homescreen [...]”
“The TV is an even better medium for iAds than the phone, because people are more likely to glance at the big screen while listening to music (and doing other things) than the iPhone in their pocket,” he notes. “And again, this would position ‘iRadio’ as a precursor of what the eventual ‘iTV’ experience will be,” he says.
Personally, I think this might happen on Monday. The service is reportedly ready to go, and integration with iOS 7, (which will presumably run on the latest versions of Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch and iPad), and Apple TV just seems like a no-brainer.
Kosner finishes by adding that he doesn’t believe “iRadio” will be “the most exciting thing” Apple will announce come Monday, and “[hopes] that there are [still] some surprises” left for the Cupertino company to “Wow” us with.
Personally, I’m putting my money on the “iWatch.”
/ Image Credit: AppDesignVault