After more than a year of negotiations with the music labels and publishers, Apple Monday unveiled its much-talked about free, streaming radio service — called iTunes Radio — at WWDCin San Francisco.
“It is the best music player we have ever done,” said Apple iTunes chief Eddy Cue, who showed off the product.
Apple’s product is aims most squarely at Pandora, which has more than 70 million active monthly listeners but is available only in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. iTunes Radio will launch in the U.S., but Cue said it will rollout in other countries soon.
The service is ad-supported, although it will be ad-free to people who use iTunes Match. It will come built into iOS 7, the iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV and iTunes on Macs and PCs. It comes with 100 stations built by the music team at Apple, and users can follow music that’s trending on Twitter.
With the new service, Apple is entering a crowded field. Streaming music — from services such as Spotify, Deezer and Pandora — make up the fastest growing segment of the recorded music industry, as people want access to music anytime, anywhere.
The launch of iTunes Radio comes after a busy last few weeks of deal making. Cue and his team, long aiming for a summer rollout of the service, only secured deals with the major labels and publishers on Friday.
Google, at its developer’s conference last month, launched a Spotify-like subscription music service called Google All Access. Google is also working on a music service tied to YouTube, which has become the dominant place where young people go to hear music.