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Apple's iRadio Looms at WWDC, Cue Pandora's Swan Song

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It came as no surprise when investors learned last Friday that Apple (AAPL) had come to terms with Sony (SNE) Music, which was the last of the "Big 3" label giants that had yet to strike a deal in Apple's push for what many are calling the "nail in the coffin" for Pandora (P).

What was surprising, however, were the descriptions used in the news reports. Some media outlets claimed that Apple was somehow "scrambling" to get a deal done prior to today's Worldwide Developer Conference, or WWDC. Some even went on to suggest that Tim Cook's back was against the wall and he was forced to yield in his demands, if he wanted to officially unveil Apple's so-called "iRadio" during Monday's keynote opening.


But let's be real here for a moment -- we've been discussing this "iRadio" rumor for almost two years. It's been a matter of "when, not if" the tech giant enters the fray. So all of a sudden, Apple was unprepared to deal with minimum payments and royalty rates?

Look, Apple knows a thing or two about music. So, while some of these pundits are quick to relegate Apple's iTunes platform to "mediocre status," these self-proclaimed experts in music quickly forget that iTunes single-handedly saved the music industry from the brinks of collapse when the likes of Napster and several other popular rogue applications tried to steal the works of artists under the pretext of "freedom."

During the midst of all of this, other than servicing the needs of "free loaders," Pandora was nowhere to be found. No all of a sudden, Pandora wears the white hat, while Apple is seen as an outlaw. If Apple plans to take iTunes' revolutionary platform a step further with iRadio, the music industry must oblige. It's their duty.

So for those who want to use this as an opportunity to take another lame shot at Tim Cook, understand that Apple was not "scrambling" to get a deal done. The overall parameters of this deal with Sony were likely already in place months ago. The bigger issue here is, what an iRadio service, which is presumed to be free and ad-supported, will mean for the future of Pandora.

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