Apple's iTunes Radio could be just the start of the company's streaming music plans. According to Billboard, Apple is mulling an on-demand streaming service that would let people listen to particular tracks without buying them, all as part of a subscription the likes of Spotify. Citing sources, Billboard adds that the company is also considering the creation of an iTunes app for Android phones, something that would mark a dramatic departure to the way Apple's developed its mobile software for the past six years.
As it stands, Apple's iTunes Radio is a free, ad-supported service that lets people create stations based on songs, artists, or genres. Apple's also curated it with celebrity DJs, and around new album releases. Users can remove the ads if they pay for Apple's iTunes Match service, which costs $24.99 a year, though they still have to buy individual songs for full price through iTunes. Billboard describes the talks between Apple and record labels about the prospects of a paid streaming service as "early."
Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously dismissed the idea of bringing iTunes to Windows, and later Android as it gained popularity. Jobs was quoted in Walter Isaacon's biography saying he didn't "see an advantage of putting our own music app on Android, except to make users happy," adding that "I don't want to make Android users happy." Current CEO Tim Cook has treaded a decidedly different line, saying the company had "no religious issues" porting its software over.
Billboard's report follows one from The Los Angeles Times last week, claiming Apple was pursuing a number of exclusive album releases to drum up digital sales, and replicate the success of Beyonce's recent surprise album, which was was the fastest-selling album on iTunes. In the backdrop are declining album and individual track sales, which according to Nielsen SoundScan, were were down 13 and 11 percent respectively in the US for the first eight weeks of the year.
iTunes Radio was a reaction to a growing crop of streaming music startups, which offer a mix of free-to-play stations like Slacker and Pandora, to on-demand services like Spotify, Rdio, and Beats. Apple's used the service to push people to buy full versions of the songs from iTunes, though iTunes Radio has been limited to the US, and only recently Australia.