According to CNET, Apple now has deals with Universal and Warner Music plus Warner’s music publishing arm, Warner Chappell, meaning that iRadio could be ready to make its first public appearance as part of the company’s keynote address at its annual World Wide Developers Conference, scheduled to get underway on June 10 in San Francisco.
According to those familiar with the negotiations and with the service, iRadio will be connected to iTunes, Apple’s online music store, and will allow users to stream curated playlists which they can pause and rewind, free of charge. Apple’s ‘Genius’ service, which analyzes a user’s record collection and makes suggestions for new songs based on their tastes, is expected to play a role in curating playlists. The service will be supported by advertising, including voice ads, and there will be a feature enabling listeners to immediately buy and download a track they like via iTunes.
Apple is yet to win around Sony. Reports suggest that negotiations are ongoing because the record label doesn’t agree with some of the features that iRadio will offer, such as the ability to skip tracks altogether. However, with two of the three biggest labels, Apple will have more than enough content to offer potential customers at launch.
However, no Sony will mean no ACDC, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Brue Springsteen, Kings of Leon or Pink.
According to the Financial Times, iRadio has been sitting, waiting to be launched since September. It was going to be the iPhone 5’s killer application but couldn’t be launched thanks to negotiations with record labels who didn’t take kindly to Apple’s already strong position within the music industry getting even more powerful.
The holdup has meant that Google beat Apple to market with its Google All Access service, which was unveiled at the search giant’s own developer conference on May 15 and which is expected to launch as a standalone app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad in the coming weeks.
Whether or not Apple’s service will be able to compete, or to take the concept of internet radio to the next level, remains to be seen. But, with a built-in customer base of 500 million (there are currently 500 million active iTunes accounts, worldwide) there is every chance that iRadio, just like iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad, could be a game changer.