iTunes Radio (finally) becomes a top-15 app, with Apple-only distribution

itunes radioApple’s iTunes Radio broke into the top-15 list of app usage in May, according to traffic measurement company comScore. (See this report.)

While this breakthrough might not seem like an epic milestone, the buzz around it has a “Finally!” aspect to it. iTunes Radio launched last September after months of promotion and industry anticipation. The entry of iTunes Radio into the music-service field was arguably the year’s biggest story, and Apple’s service was widely portrayed as a potential “Pandora killer.” For months, there was intense echo-chamber debate and examination of audience metrics to understand the impact of iTunes Radio.

Within a few months it was apparent that, while iTunes Radio enjoyed strong brand awareness (see The Infinite Dial 2014), it’s impact on Pandora’s growth was negligible. And while the service introduced some useful features, the iTunes Radio experience did not build a differentiating reputation.

While the May comScore report provides a nice piece of publicity for Apple, it does not compare iTunes Radio exactly with other music-app use across the mobile landscape, for two reasons. First, in comScore, iTunes Radio is merged with Apple’s iCloud file-storage service, and those two audiences probably do not overlap exactly. (Strategic comScore grouping is common, even rampant in some categories like web publishing. It is done for better positioning in comScore “top” lists.)

Second, and more important, iTunes Radio is distributed only in Apple devices — iPhones, iPods, and iPads. So the entire Android universe of usage is untouched by iTunes Radio, which is not available on that platform. The Android operating system represents about 52% of mobile use.

Brad Hill