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Report: Apple working on streaming music service

Many years ago, it was believed that radio would usurp the popularity of live theatre. Then, television was expected to kill radio, and in recent years the Internet has been profiled as the multimedia behemoth that would kill nearly all other entertainment formats.

But constant innovations have proven that even seemingly old platforms can remain vital sources of user engagement and profit. Now Apple is reportedly hoping to join the move to bring radio into the 21st century with its own streaming music service.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Apple is working on a custom radio service that would rival those offered by Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio. Although the streaming radio business is not an easy category to crack in terms of profit, Apple's ability to leverage its existing relationships with music labels for iTunes could mean that the labels would be willing to offer Cupertino more favourable license terms than its rivals.

The report also claims that the service would be limited to Apple devices, essentially cutting out Android and Windows users, and giving Apple loyalists and switchers alike yet another reason to opt into Apple's tightly controlled media ecosystem.

Presently, Pandora appears to lead the market with roughly 54 million users, followed by Spotify at approximately 16 million users, and by the upstart Rdio, created by the founders of Skype. But Apple's iTunes boasts roughly 200 million user accounts, which would immediately put it in the lead in terms of crossover accessibility to a new music service.

The report doesn't make any direct link to the Apple event coming up on Sept. 12, but Apple is known for surprising even the most leaky sources.