iTunes Radio – Where the Heck Have You Been?
Apple’s WWDC conference was this week and among the new iOS 7, a cylindrical PowerMac, and a smaller Macbook Air was iTunes Radio. So where the heck has this been? Hey Apple, do you know how much money I spent through Pandora and Spotify to buy music their radio stations played for me? Where the hell has this been? I’m glad I was able to support visionary internet radio stations by helping their affiliate marketing through the iTunes store. Hell, I want our podcast to play on Pandora and Spotify. It’s on Last.FM by the way.
But seriously, what took Apple so long to do this? They had the world’s largest and most trusted music store. It’s put local music stores out of business because it was so awesome. But they couldn’t give us a radio station where we could buy the music from it? Really? You were the visionaries to dream this up! You gave us the freaking iPod! Why not enable some radio stations! What took so dang long!
I decided to roll through Apples iTunes Radio page to see if there was anything earth shattering in it that needed almost 12 years of development. 200-genre focused stations. Neat. I have $20 on there being only 2 classical stations. But seriously, they have an algorithm that will read my music and then be able to give me music that agrees with me? Cool. Hopefully this will be faster than the two weeks it takes Spotify and Pandora to learn my tastes. With apple’s spotty record on search algorithms and AI, I’m not too hopeful though.
Creating Custom stations. Okay cool. So how is this different from my playlists that I agonize over, or the playlists that Genius does for me? Instead of being at the mercy of streaming music, I can have a copy on my phone/iPod/iPad/Library and just listen to my playlists. Even when the power is out.
Siri takes your requests. Oh yeah? Like those handy directions into the ocean, or 2-year-old intellect I struggle with on a daily basis to send text messages hands-free? Siri is great for texting while driving (Dear law-enforcement, I don’t touch my phone while driving), but it’s also like hiring your 3-year old niece as your secretary. In the end you wind up doing everything yourself.
Listen to exclusive songs. Bingo! Now the strong arm of the iTunes store can be flexed! Now I can listen to a soundtrack weeks in advance, wetting my appetite to buy it once it is available. Or maybe tracks aren’t available for purchase and only on the radio. Not as cool, but definitely a reason to tune in. This is more like a move a consumer would expect a large company with ton of lawyers readily available to be capable of. Gimmie the good stuff. Make your grass greener. Right now it’s all work.
Music from your ears to your collection. Okay two less clicks to buy something. Again, this is the no brainer idea I was initially whining about. I constantly almost buy some live albums off of Pandora because I want them, but by the 5th click, I get buyers remorse and abandon the shopping cart.
iTunes Radio is ad-free with iTunes Match. Ah, so that’s the gag. Hey, nothing is free. Pandora and Spotify all have subscription services to listen ad free, or mobily. The world’s biggest record store was going to get paid somehow, and they won’t be reliant on a few music purchases to pay for the vast server farm they will need to keep running. The cloud costs money. My only issue with this is after I was part of the beta program for iTunes match; all the music I had rightfully purchased off of iTunes only plays half-way through the track now, and will play silence or crash my iPod or iPhone from now on.
In the end all I can conclude is that Apple can’t write a search algorithm that works, and finally pulled the trigger on iTunes Radio. Their Map app is a perfect example of something that is just inferior to Google’s, and Google’s voice search is schooling Siri. The algorithm that learns your favorite music and makes suggestions has never been out of reach. Pandora and Spotify both have it, and after two work weeks, both sites know what to play, and how to stretch my ears with new stuff.
As a consumer, I easily fall into the role of the arm-chair CEO, and so I’ll go ahead and say “Pay the damn money and grab some Googlers to write you some algorithms. You have more money than the U.S. Government, you can swing this. Write a map app, get an algorithm that can search for things I ask for verbally, and get a program that learns my musical tastes, and fix your iTunes search while you are at it. I can’t even find my own podcast.”
Thanks for the radio iTunes, I’m sure I will be using it, so check back loyal Giggaheim Reader and see if the Giggaheim likes it, or is even on it after it is released.