If the rumors are to be believed, one of Apple's announcements at the WWDC keynote on Monday will be a music streaming service. Currently referred to as iRadio, the latest reports suggest that not only are the three big labels now on board, but that Apple will launch it as a free service supported by advertising. Wait, what?
Of all the companies that offer a music streaming service, Apple is possibly the last one you would expect to launch an ad-supported product. A thought echoed by Daring Fireball's John Gruber:
So Google’s streaming music is a paid service, and Apple’s is going to be free with ads. Got it. Wait, what?
Let's face it; we're well used to paying for things from Apple. That's not to say that a free service wouldn't be wonderful. If no-one has to pay, then there's little reason not to use it at least on occasion. But, it's not going to be to everyone's liking. I tried the free level of Spotify before signing up, and the amount of in-stream ads drove me to pay a lot quicker than I'd planned on doing.
And that's the point in question. In-app advertising is quite, quite different. It usually doesn't directly affect the experience, they can be dismissed or simply ignored. But in-stream audio advertising is different; you can't skip it, you can't ignore it. The ads play through to the end.
The other point to consider is whether or not this could be a high profile effort to reinvigorate Apple's iAd advertising platform. iAd isn't used nearly as much as any rival advertising platforms, yet its inclusion in their own music service could see millions of ads delivered every hour.
As with everything else rumored, we don't have long to find out if any of it is in fact true. There's just something that doesn't feel quite right about an Apple service wholly paid for by advertising. What do you guys think? Would you be happier to use a service in this way? Or would you prefer the option of paying to remove any advertising? Sound off in the comments!