Why Pandora May Be Immune to iTunes Radio

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Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) is, or was, at risk of being crushed by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) over the previously rumored and now announced iTunes Radio service. Pandora is said to have close to a 70% market share of the online radio market, and Apple is coming into the online radio market late in the game despite its lead in MP3 players.

You would think that the confirmation would kill Pandora’s stock, but Pandora’s stock price is suddenly up over 3% at $15.63 against a 52-week trading range of $7.08 to $19.37. Pandora has grown as a cross-platform service which operates on Android, Windows, Mac and other systems. Apple is still a closed system.

iTunes Radio will also be ad-free for those customers who are subscribers of the iTunes Match service. In short, it will cost otherwise and we do not yet have pricing. You can listen to iTunes Radio via iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC, and Apple TV, and you can switch between devices without interruption.

What would have truly killed Pandora is if Apple opened up its iTunes Radio across all outside platforms. The new launch site keeps touting the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC and Apple TV. Apple also noted that the iTunes Radio is available in the United States only and will be rolled out to other countries down the road.

Apple is proving yet again that it wants to be a device leader and use its services to boost that brand loyalty. If this is not going to extend iTunes beyond the Apple devices, then Pandora still theoretically has many more cars it can be installed in and many more computers that listeners can keep up their Pandora services on.

Pandora may only have lost a fraction of its users for now. It seems as though Pandora is far from being killed by Apple.

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