Even before Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off yesterday, a lot of focus was being put on iTunes. Specifically, how Apple was getting ready to change how we listened to music, with the help of their digital retail outlet. In fact, I'd venture to say that the feature that would eventually become to be known as iTunes Radio was one of the most talked about, one of the most rumored and speculated over new features coming to iOS and iTunes. All of that speculation and rumor milling only got us so far, though.
Much like we saw with iOS 7 in general, Apple did a ridiculously good job of keeping all their secrets secret right up until the last moment. Of course, in the case for iTunes Radio, it "helped" that it sounds like Apple went right down to the wire to secure deals with the major music labels.
If you were like me, you were probably paying close attention when they started talking about iTunes Radio. It was definitely one of the features I was most excited about, if it did indeed get talked about at all. I had been keenly tuned to all the rumors and talk about Apple's streaming music service, because the general consensus was that it was going to be a service to directly compete with Spotify, or Rdio. Apple was gearing up to take on the heavy hitters, and why shouldn't they? They've got iTunes bolstering the service. You'd think if anyone out there had the guts to take on the steadfast front-runners, it would be Apple.
Unfortunately, that didn't turn out to be the case.
Instead, some of the other rumors panned out. (Basically, you realize, that if you just throw enough speculation out there, something will stick, and someone out there will be all excited because they got it right. So, you know, hooray or something.) iTunes Radio is exactly what it sounds like. It isn't a streaming service like Spotify or Rdio, where you pay a monthly subscription to have access to as much music as you want, and where you can build your own library and download the tracks to listen to while you're offline. No, iTunes Radio is a Pandora competitor. A Slacker competitor. A radio competitor.
And I'm just kind of at a a loss.
Can I admit that I was kind of caught up in the excitement of the rumors? Yes, I'll admit that. I'm not exactly sure why I was caught up in the rumors, considering that I don't have a problem using a service like Spotify, but I was. And I'm sure that plays a small part in my disappointment in the iTunes Radio announcement, but I also know that it goes beyond that.
I have absolutely no idea why Apple would want to work so hard just to create a competitor to Pandora or Slacker. Not because I don't think anyone will use it. I know people will. I've even already tried it out. But because I don't' see people switching from what they've already been using for years just to use something that's exactly like it.
If you use Pandora, for instance, then you have probably been working diligently to get your music stations right where you want them. With the right mixture of songs, artists, and genre. If you're like me, then you've been using Pandora for a long time, and there's been a lot of input in which songs should play in each station. Sure, Pandora does a good job of that on its own --for the most part-- but we all know there has to be some loving care infused with the effort, too, if you don't want some random track getting thrown in there to throw you off your groove. (Yep.)
Apparently Apple expects folks to just toss that out and essentially start over, just so they can have it be from Apple. I can't help but laugh because I know people who are going to do that, for that specific reason.
I would have been pretty amazed if Apple would have created a true Spotify competitor for the same price plan as their current iTunes Radio. $24.99 a year, with the ridiculously huge iTunes library backing it, and the ability to create your own library and download tracks for offline usage. It sounds too good to be true, and that's probably why it doesn't exist. But, I'm telling you right now, if Apple *had* unveiled that service? I would have been all over it.
Tell me what you think about iTunes Radio. Do you think Apple missed the mark with the service? Or is this something you've eagerly been waiting for? If you use Pandora, will you switch to iTunes Radio? Let me know!