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iTunes 11 tweak could indicate Apple will start 'iRadio' in 2013

December 03, 2012|By Chris O'Brien
  • Rumors of an Apple Internet radio service have made Pandora shareholders nervous.
Rumors of an Apple Internet radio service have made Pandora shareholders… (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg…)

Back in September, there were reports that Apple was in talks with major record labels to launch an Internet radio service that would rival Pandora. That news caused Pandora shareholders to, well, freak out. 

Then, in October, speculation heated up that Apple was close, and might even launch its radio service in November.

Yet, here it is December, and still no official word from Apple HQ. However, analyst Richard Greenfield of securities firm BTIG thinks Apple handed us a whopper of a clue about its intentions when it released iTunes 11 last week.

In a short research note, Greenfield says he believes Apple is in position to unveil an "iRadio" service (or, whatever it would be called) in the first half of 2013. As evidence, he points to the upgraded position that iTunes' radio feature received in the new release of the software.

"Apple’s iTunes 11 has made the current generation 'Radio' product far more prominent, adding it to the horizontal feature bar that runs across the top of the screen," Greenfield wrote. 

Of course, what most Apple watchers really want to hear about is the mythical Apple TV beast. Greenfield believes an Apple TV service is still a work in progress and predicts Apple's radio service will arrive much sooner. 

Greenfield previously explained what he sees as the vast potential for an Apple radio service that would challenge Pandora and, depending on its features, might even rival Spotify. 

In his latest note, Greenfield reiterated that a radio service could be an important product for Apple by leveraging many of the company's other assets.

"We continue to believe an iRadio product is critical for Apple to create a local advertising/commerce strategy, tying together Maps, Passbook, Siri and a new music service (which we are calling iRadio for now)," Greenfield wrote. 

So are you excited about Apple potentially launching an Internet radio service? What would it take to get you to switch from Pandora or Spotify? 

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Follow me on Twitter @obrien.

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