Apple’s music streaming service continues to compete in the heavily contested streaming market.
While several reports and surveys have revealed that iTunes Radio’s user base has grown substantially in the US, it still hasn’t done much in terms of driving digital music downloads through iTunes. One of the reasons behind this service was to plug declining music downloads as music aficionados are increasingly favoring streaming services. An expansion into the UK might come at a time when Apple is thinking of radically shaking things up in its music business.
iTunes Match subscribers get an ad-free experience, but those who don’t subscribe to the $25 service can still use iTunes Radio, albeit in its ad-supported form. Therefore ads are a vital to the music streaming service’s existence. Prior to launching in a new market Apple would want to have advertisers on board. The company’s director of iAd in London, Paul Wright, has been meeting with media marketing agencies to discuss iAd advertising on iTunes Radio. A launch will likely happen once there’s sufficient interest in advertising on the service.
Apple might also be considering a premium music streaming service. Rumor has it that the company is in exploratory talks with music labels for a subscription service, much like Spotify and Beats Music. It’s expected to keep iTunes Radio around even if that service launches. In iOS 8 the company is expected to introduce iTunes Radio as a standalone app. This will help it market the service in a much better way. It will also make iTunes Radio more permanent. The service currently resides within the native Music app on iOS 7. Giving it prominent placement will help drive more users.
It has been reported multiple times that iTunes Radio has appeared sporadically for users in the UK. This shows that the service has already undergone testing in the market. Since there’s no official word from Apple it can’t be said for sure exactly when iTunes Radio is going to be launched in the UK. Presumably it shouldn’t take more than a few weeks.