Given the high cost of operation and mounting losses of industry leader Pandora, analysts have suggested that Apple's intention with iTunes Radio isn't about profit -- (it may not even be about Internet radio at all).
"It’s about keeping its users from other Internet radio products," wrote Minyanville.com's Diane Bullock. "If Apple can provide this in-demand service to its iOS faithful, they won’t be tempted to stray and find themselves in the open and exciting arms of threateningly hip startups. Being all things digital means the cult of Mac won’t have to worry about defectors bolting for the door."
Consider: most potential listeners already have an iTunes account. The new service will be preinstalled on iPhones and iPads with iOS 7, iTunes for OS X and Windows, and Apple TV. And if a listener is signed in and ready-to-go, why launch another app to listen to Net radio?
You may remember that the iTunes store itself had "break even" as a goal in 2003, and was launched to help sell iPods. After just five years, the store became the the leading U.S. music vendor. It now accounts for 64% of the world's online music sales, generating 15% profit on sales of $13.5 billion.
For the Internet radio product, Apple may have already laid the groundwork for some nice revenue. With blue-chip advertisers lined up before the service even launches, some paying tens of millions for year-long ad campaigns (see RAIN here), Apple may indeed end up exceeding expectations. They've done it before.
Read the Minyanville piece here.