New iTunes Radio Struggles as Contender for Music Streaming Services

Published On October 24, 2013 | App & Software, Tech Business

Over the last decade, Apple seems to have consistently turned out as a winner. The company is one of the most highly valued in the world, and its hardware is revered and sought out in all corners of the globe. As the company increasingly pursues products like iTunes Radio, however, some people are asking more questions about the UX for SaaS projects.

When the product was first released in September, experts anticipated it would pose a threat to Spotify, a popular streaming music service that allows listeners to hear entire albums for free and specific songs for free. To the surprise of Pandora, a streaming radio service, iTunes Radio mimics its product offerings more than Spotify’s.

Pandora’s CFO, Mike Herring, told CNET that iTunes Radio was a “credible threat” that would be seriously considered in the company’s future developments. He added that Pandora was confident it was positioned well enough in the market to maintain its reputation as one of the best streaming music services on the web.

The iTunes Radio is beautifully and minimally designed, like its hardware family, but critics have noted it has a lot to learn from services like Pandora. After more than eight years on the market and over 72 million users a month, Pandora has gained invaluable insight to user experience design, its recommendation algorithm and overall product development.

Pandora isn’t free of its critics – the company has fought some battles over royalty fees to artists, whom iTunes compensate more graciously. However, Pandora remains one of the most user trusted music services on the net and has done well despite a number of new players in the market like Spotify, Rdio or Songza.

Just like other streaming radio services, iTunes Radio recommends relevant artists and songs, allows users to build their own stations, buy tracks directly or add them to their wish list. Users can vote tracks up or down and track songs they have played, so they can always be revisited and purchased. It all seems extremely comparable to other services out there, but because of its relative age compared to Pandora or Songza, has experienced some harsh words about its overall stability as a software.

One Cult of Mac blogger called iTunes Radio “incredibly buggy and unpredictable,” leading him to conclude the more established stations as better choices – for now. Like any new product, bugs are expected and there is no doubt that Apple, which is specifically targeting the more than 200 million devices running iOS 7, will be releasing updates and improvements as reviews and ratings start to roll in.

Users will find their choice based not on product offering, but rather on their patience and willingness to navigate new user interfaces.

— By Jessica Oaks

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