The New York Times has disclosed information pointing to an expected change in Apple’s music retail business. For years now Apple’s iTunes Music Store has been one of the industry leaders in digital sales, a rapidly expanding market that has finally overtaken compact disks as the primary source of music for consumers.
Now with the advent of always-connected mobile devices Apple is believed to be expanding it’s iTunes offerings to include a Pandora-like subscription streaming service. The new service would compete with a crowded marketplace, going head to head with popular providers like Pandora and Spotify.
While not confirmed, the move would be a sensible and practical one. Apple has a built-in customer base should they make their streaming service a default iOS and OSX app, and could conceivably expand into other non-Apple mobile devices. Apple’s existing Genius function in iTunes could provide Pandora-like matching to desired tracks, and should Apple gain streaming rights to the content of the iTunes Music Store they could potentially offer a library superior to any competitor’s. The existing purchase model employed by iTunes has been less popular with mobile device owners than streaming services, partially due to the lack of storage space on their devices, and partially due to the culture of instant gratification such devices afford. No matter where you may be, a smartphone can provide a staggering wealth of media and information in moments. Power such as this quickly becomes the norm, and consumers have shown they will embrace streaming music services should the price and quality be right.
As a Pandora One subscriber, I can attest to how pleasant a good streaming service can be. The frequency that I refresh the music library on my iPhone and iPad as dwindled to a fraction of what it once was as a direct result of the ease of access Pandora provides. While I haven’t used it yet, I have friends that swear by Spotify’s service, and these are just two of a host of options mobile users have at their fingertips. Should Apple offer a streaming service I for one would definitely be interested.