iTunes Radio is too little, too late
At WWDC, Apple's big annual show, the company finally announces iTunes Radio, a service rumored and bandied about around the internet for some time. Apple, as it is known to do, builds this up to be the be-all and end-all of everything that came before. Is it?
To answer that we must first delve into what iTunes Radio is. According to Apple, customers "have access to Featured Stations, stations inspired by the music you already listen to, and more than 200 genre-focused stations — including everything from Hard Rock to Doo Wop. Your stations evolve based on the music you play and download".
As you likely can deduce, this is Pandora, only five years late. It is also Google Music All Access, just a bit late as well -- and less full-featured.
Apple does offer Siri integration, which is a novel touch. For instance, you can ask Siri to play what you’re in the mood to hear. If you are listening to your favorite Reggae track then tell Siri "Play more like this".
Apple also tells us that "as the world's most popular music store, iTunes has access to thousands of new songs every week. And you’ll hear some of that music on iTunes Radio before you hear it anywhere else". 'Some' perhaps is the key word.
Unlike Pandora, and a feature I wish resided on that service, iTunes Radio does retain a list of previously played songs. It also allows for a wish list (as does Pandora and Google) so that you can purchase tunes in the future.
iTunes Radio is free, with ad support, or customers can choose to get the service ad-free with an iTunes Match subscription -- a service that runs $24.99 per year.
So why do I say it is too little and too late? Not pricing. iTunes Radio comes in a few dollars beneath Pandora, which sets you back $3.99 per month. No, the answer lies with the world's search leader. Google Music All Access, while costing more, rolls together all of your music, Pandora-style radio and Spotify-like access to any song or album. Once again, Google beats the world to the next level. Testimony? I am dropping my Pandora subscription for the Google offering. It is the best of every world, and I find others, including the latest Apple offer, to be lacking.