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Pandora Acquisition? Not Likely

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With rumors swirling about Apple (AAPL - Get Report) reportedly entering the Internet streaming music service, there's been speculation that Pandora (P - Get Report) could be an acquisition target for Google (GOOG - Get Report) or Amazon (AMZN - Get Report). While Apple's presence in any market causes concern for competitors, an outright acquisition seems less likely.

Amazon, for example, has been in the business of building its own services, such as Amazon Video, its app store, and Amazon Cloud Player, to name a few. Buying Pandora doesn't fit in with this strategy.

Pandora, despite reporting stronger-than-expected second quarter earnings, has yet to turn a profit since going public, which could also detract from its appeal. Google and Amazon, who now compete with Apple in the mobile device market, are not charities. They are for-profit businesses, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted at the company's recent Kindle event in Santa Monica.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of indications that Apple could step into streaming music.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm already accounts for a 64% share of the digital music market in the United States according to research firm NPD, and Apple entering the space makes sense, says Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group.

"The rising popularity of online radio helps explain Apple's rumored interest in streaming radio," said Crupnick in the press release. "As listening migrates from downloads on laptops to streams on phones and tablets, it would make sense for iTunes to offer customers the same integrated experience they have been known for by adding a streaming capability."

Amazon and Google, of course, do not have the pull that Apple does with the music industry, and would likely not be able to lower content costs, which Pandora recently said were increasing as users use the service more.

JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth recently expressed concern about a potential Apple foray into the market and what it could mean. "...[W]e recognize Apple poses considerably more risk given its strong brand and device install base, existing relationships within the music industry, and its balance sheet-creating potential to structure advantageous content licensing agreements.

Both Pandora and Apple could not be immediately reached for comment for this story.
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