Users in Ecuador have provided evidence
that iTunes Radio is now sporadically available in the South American country, suggesting that Apple is testing the service in preparation for international rollouts there and elsewhere. The news comes on the heels of previous reports
in both the UK and Canada that saw testing of the service in those place, which may hint that Apple plans to announce a big expansion of the service in the near future. Officially, it is only available in the US and Australia
Though only seven months old, iTunes Radio has outperformed expectations and garnered third place
among streaming online radio services, very close behind the second most-popular service, ClearChannel's iHeartRadio. Pandora continues to be the top subscription or ad-supported streaming radio service in the US, but has failed in efforts to expand beyond the US and New Zealand, breaking years of promises to international audiences.
That iTunes Radio has a significantly higher share of online radio that the popular "jukebox on demand" service Spotify suggests that the service has found more of an audience than early reports would have indicated. Pandora is far out in front (31 percent share compared to nine and eight percent for iHeartRadio and iTunes, respectively), but has the smallest pool of music available (800,000 songs compared to the many millions the others offer) and has recently had a very difficult time turning a profit.
One advantage that iTunes Radio could have over its competitors is the ability to go international, an ace it has not yet really played, reports AppleInsider
. While international negotiations are often complicated and difficult when it comes to performance rights and royalties on music, Apple has by far the most experience in implementing the commerce infrastructure needed to make such deals financially viable, and may be planning to announce a multi-country rollout as summer gets closer.
Apple's iTunes Radio offers a combination of services: some curated "stations," often featuring a celebrity DJ or showcasing new albums or the music of a particular artist or genre, and the ability of users to create their own "stations" by selecting songs they like and setting a preference somewhere between "hits" (just familiar songs) and "discovery" (introducing similar artists) and offering the ability to favorite or banish songs and skip ahead to a limited degree. The service is ad-supported, but those who are enrolled in the $25-per-year iTunes Match
cloud locker service receive the channels ad-free.