"Apple would need to build its Internet radio service sooner or later," suggests Billboard.biz. Given Pandora's explosion in usage and strides in generating advertising revenue, on-demand services like Spotify have been stepping up their non-interactive radio features -- so perhaps it's time for Apple to do the same. Watch to see how Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook respond.
Billboard also suggests that direct deals between Apple and sound recording copyright owners (i.e. record labels) would allow Apple's service to stream anywhere around the world (the DMCA statutory license, which makes it unnecessary for webcasters to license directly from labels, applies only to the U.S.). This would be an obvious advantage over Pandora.
What's more, Apple obviously already has its iAd advertising platform, and a huge hardware customer base and the biggest download store in the world. They're uniquely positioned to leverage those tools to gain dominance in the Internet radio field.
"No Apple foray into music is a slum dunk. But given the company's track record in music and its commanding market position in mobile handsets and technology, Apple could become a major player - it could even dominate or reinvent Internet radio," writes Billboard.
Would Apple acquire an existing webcaster? "No acquisitions have been made public - Apple's purchase of SoundJam in 2000 preceded iTunes, and its purchase of Lala.com in 2009 preceded iTunes Match - so don't expect Apple to build from scratch any time soon."
Read more from Billboard.biz here.