It was a reminder that the Prism surveillance scandal was hardly halting the global demand for new technology. On Monday night Apple, one of the eight companies implicated in the recent Prism surveillance leaks, launched its eagerly anticipated online music streaming service.
iTunes Radio, scheduled to launch in Britain later this year, marks something of an extension of its music platform. Its development has been shrouded in secrecy, prompting endless speculation. But in a glitzy ceremony in San Francisco, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak lifted the lid on the streaming service that promises more than 200 radio stations broadcasting music tailored to its user’s music taste.
The move marks the company’s latest effort to steal a march on music streaming services such as Pandora and Google Play All Access.
Apple said that users will be able to share their stations with their friends and buy songs with one click from the iTunes store. The company will also be showing “featured stations” that pull in music from what is trending on Twitter at that moment.
To begin with, iTunes Radio will base its playlists on user listening history and past purchases from iTunes. The service, which has the backing of major labels including Sony, Warner and Universal Music Group, launches in the US shortly and is expected to arrive in Britain by autumn.
Experts said the service marks a significant development for online streaming, which is hailed as the next frontier for the music industry after the success of Spotify, which launched in the UK five years ago.
Mike Williamson, head of radio at global media agency Carat said: “The strength of the Apple brand and the sheer number of iTunes accounts as well as the popularity of the iPad will naturally draw users into iTunes Radio. Apple’s total revenues will not be affected by how much revenue iTunes Radio brings in, so they have somewhat of an advantage over Spotify. I’m sure they will push all the major agencies for deals but they have other income streams that will bring in the majority of the revenue.”
Following the success of digital downloads, music streaming is set to be the next big frontier for the music industry, although negotiations surrounding royalties have slowed new developments.