One month after the unveil of Google Play Music, Apple finally has its own music streaming service. The company debuted iTunes Radio at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday.
When iTunes first launched in 2003, Apple had one of the first – and arguably the most-user friendly – online music store. The software let you purchase, download, and listen to music at what seemed like a steal (just 99 cents per song!).
But then music streaming services started cropping up, edging into the iTunes market. Why pay 99 cents, when you can stream from vast music libraries like Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio for free? And with apps that allow for streaming on smart phones, the idea of actually buying music, rather than paying for access to a music library, became almost passé.
That's not to say that Apple's delay in building a music streaming platform has hurt the company – as of April 2013, Apple still held 63 percent of the digital music market, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. But now that the Google Music Player has started offering both streaming and music purchasing options, it seems high time that its rival, Apple, should take a stab at the music streaming business.
So how does the new iTunes Radio stack up?
Cost: iTunes Radio is free and allows you to tailor music stations to your tastes, or tune-in to genre stations. For $24.99 per year, you can get iTunes Match, which will store all of your music on iCloud so you can access any and all of your music wherever you have access to the Internet.
Perks: Apple advertises that iTunes Radio users will have quicker access to new releases than they would with other music streaming sites. Plus, you can use Apple's voice command service, Siri, to request songs.
Limits: It remains to be seen how you can share your listening with other iTunes Radio users.
Devices: Accessible on Mac, PC, and Apple mobile devices.