Pandora Responds to iTunes Radio Launches in September: iTunes Radio Bitrate and Quality Unclear


It looks as though Pandora is looking over its shoulder at the competition.  Apple has announced that it will be launching it’s much-awaited iTunes Radio streaming service in September.  In response to this announcement, Pandora has lifted its 40 hour/month free listening limit on mobile users.

The Pandora announcement was made by Pandora’s CFO Mike Herring during this past week’s earnings call.  The 40-hour per month limit for mobile users was introduced this past February in response to the increasing royalty rates Pandora needs to pay.

As it stands now, even though Apple has announced the launch date for iTunes Radio, we still don’t know about the inherent quality of the streaming. Apple hasn’t yet published formal specs on what we’re going to expect.  I find that a bit odd and I’m wondering out loud if there will be variations in the quality—in other words, will you have a guaranteed 256k or will it vary between 128k-256k, etc.  If there’s any sort of adaptive streaming inherent, this may be the case so you’d possibly be getting up to XYZ bitrate.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the launch of iTunes Radio next month.  It’s going to be interesting to see this new move and how it continues to impact the evolution of the music industry.