But for Pandora (P), the customized radio service, and Spotify, the Swedish-owned on-demand streaming platform, Apple's entrance may not be reason for alarm.
The maker of the iPad and iPhone plans to introduce a subscription-based music streaming service as early as next week, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The $10 per month service is intended in part to compensate for declining revenue at iTunes, the music download platform that catapulted Apple into the world's largest music retailer. Revenue from services that includes iTunes, the App Store and iBooks, was $4.9 billion in the quarter ended March 30.
But unlike its entrance into laptops and smartphones, Apple may find it harder to dominate music streaming, said Paul Verna, a media analyst at eMarketer.
Pandora and Spotify, the world's largest music streaming services, already have millions of listeners, and their basic offerings are free. Active Pandora listeners climbed to 79.2 million in the first quarter while privately-held Spotify began the year with 60 million worldwide users. Apple, though, only plans to make a limited number of song available for free. Apple's service will be largely subscription-based, a stark contrast to their rivals which get only a fraction of their revenue from monthly subscribers.
"A lot of what has allowed Pandora and Spotify to flourish, particularly in the U.S., has been this ad-supported tier," Verna said. "What Apple appears to be planning asks a lot more of the consumer who is already spread thin by all sorts of content services that are trying to charge a subscription."