Rumored iRadio to be supported by in-stream advertising; wait, really?

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!

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Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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Reader comments

Rumored iRadio to be supported by in-stream advertising; wait, really?


Not sure i think it's much different than listening to music on old fashioned radio stations.

I'd be willing to give it a skeptical free trial, but I am skeptical (doubtful). IF this rumor is even true, and probably it is not. IMHO

If this turns out to be the case, why get it? It will have to offer more than the other services. I pay for Rhapsody, if I listen to an artist, it is all their music. I have the free pandora, and some days their choice of songs are way off the artist you pick. If I did not pay for Rhapsody, I would have gone with Spotify. Guess we will know Monday.

I'll get it if it's free. But i'm wondering if they(Apple) will off set it with a payed app??

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They seem to be a little late to the party, again, I pay for spotify and only use it to make album or genre playlists, it would have have to be something special for me to switch, which I can't see it being.

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It doesn't seem odd to me. iOS is served more ads than any other mobile platform (soon more than any platform), and Apple is is the advertising business. It seems like a natural mix.

Right I thought that was the big knock on google but I guess they will not sell your information

Right I thought that was the big knock on google but I guess they will not sell your information

If this nothing but a pandora copy then I'm not interested. If this is more like spotify with a better catalog then they've got my attention.

How about this as an idea. Free with ads, but if you subscribe to iTunes Match you can have an ad free experience....

As long as the app is deletable, Apple can experiment with any pricing model they see fit. If offers value above what I already get with Spotify and Pandora, I'll use it. If not, I won't.

I would love to have the service, but as with Pandora, Spotify, Mog and others, I just don't want to spend 10 bucks a month. I know it probably seems silly but I just wish I could spend 3-5 bucks a month and listen. Somehow this doesn't seem like such a huge investment. I am not an audiophile music freak, and when I am at work I don't always listen to music. Ugh, this sounds silly when I write it, but somehow it feels like paying for music streaming is like in-app purchases. I am willing to pay a little, but please don't make me pay through the nose for it. How about just having me buy it out right and giving me the service? Don't tongue lash me, I'm just sayin'...

Maybe it isn't the fact I should pay, but what is the fair price for such a service. It seems like Pandora and others have you pay for a service and promise you certain features, then just about the time you get all settled in, they say "Oh, by the way, now we are offering less and charging you the same amount". The consumer loses.

I am an older (49) Apple fan and am looking forward to this service, I just hope I can bring myself to pay for! One thing though, if the have ads in the stream...not a chance. Radio is still free.

I agree. While I enjoy music I tend to listen to music I have already bought and think 120quid a year is a bit steep for a service that I'd hardly ever use. Some people stop buying music and spend that money on Spotify etc. instead as you can listen to all the music you want but a) I don't spend 10 pounds a month on music as it is and b) where does that leave you if/when you decide to stop using the service?

I'd much prefer them to go for a Spotify type model ... With tight integration into iTunes it would really blow all competition out of the water !