Apple plans iTunes music streaming?

itunesWith over two million European users, music streaming service Spotify hopes to launch itself as an application for the iPhone – but doesn’t know if Apple will permit the move.

The European service is now recruiting staff for a US launch. Andres Sehr from the company said: “We really don’t know if Apple will give us the go-ahead, and all we can do it submit our software then wait and see.”

European music industry chatter apparently claims Apple sees Spotify as a threat to the iTunes Store, and may not allow the application to launch on an iPhone.

With this in mind it’s set us thinking – does Apple see Spotify as a threat, or is it planning to launch its own streamed music service?

We already know Apple allows and Pandora to offer streaming music services on an iPhone, but both of these link to the iTunes Store for music purchases, Spotify’s model is to cache playlists on the application for offline listening, side-stepping iTunes music retail.

The growing popularity of streamed music services is pretty clear on this statistic: In the 20 hours following Michael Jackson’s death, Spotify users in the UK listened to more than 10 million Jackson songs.

Apple is clearly aware of the trend toward streaming music services, and is slowly switching its iPod range from being de facto players for owner’s own music libraries to being wireless connected devices capable of accessing such streams – a la iPod touch.

With the next big moment on Apple watcher’s radar being the customary autumn refresh of the iPod line-up, it’s no great surprise that giant US retailer Amazon is currently selling existing models at up to a 13 per cent discount, including 8 per cent off the cost of the iPod touch 32 GB, which now costs $369 (a $30.99 discount).

Discussion earlier this year focused on the notion Apple may soon offer digital lockers for iTunes user’s existing content – we now suspect a music streaming service from Apple may also be on the radar.

We do know Microsoft plans to introduce its own streaming service later this year, recent reports claim – based, indeed, on Spotify. Though this will be for Xbox and Zune.

The problem with streamed music services remains the lack of a clear route to profitability for companies concerned. We’ll wait and see what Apple’s execution might be. Some services including We7 are experimenting with an ads-supported model.

We anticipate Apple’s plan may favour an all you can eat music subscription service that supports both a la carte downloads and unlimited music streaming. We seem to recall whispers to that effect this time last year.

13 thoughts on “Apple plans iTunes music streaming?

  1. kirasaw

    yet another wannabe. Basically with Sportify you can listen to music streamed over an internet connection with ads hmmmmm how does this differ from other services that are failing already? and isn’t it basically like radio just you choose the play list? I mean when I listen to the radio most of the songs on my play list on my iPod are played during the day on radio. Sportify has a “premium” service also where you have to pay a monthly fee but get no ads – again like the service we all know that are failing or have failed already. I just would love to pay somebody to music but not own it! yea right. I think I will stick with ripping my own and buying from iTunes.

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