Not surprising, but worth confirming: Apple’s iTunes Radio streaming music service will be US-only when it launches later this year. Australians can expect to see the service eventually, but just how long we’ll have to wait is an open question.
Because licensing agreements for music are rarely global, Australians invariably suffer a delay when it comes to any new way of consuming or purchasing music. The only real solace we can draw is that in some cases the delays are getting shorter. For instance, while the ability to buy music via the iTunes Store launched in the US in April 2003, Aussies had to wait until October 2005 for a local store. Conversely, when the iTunes Match service launched in the US in November 2011, Australians only had to wait a month for it to show up.
Apart from licensing agreements, Apple will also need to ramp up its local ad sales team, since iTunes Radio is free but features ads. Customers who have paid for iTunes Match won’t hear the ads. Offering a free ad-supported streaming service puts Apple in direct competition with Spotify, the most visible of the currently available streaming music services in Australia. One potential disadvantage for Apple? No apps for any mobile platform other than iOS.