The answer is simple: licensing. All the other streaming music services are using standard licenses which carry all sorts of interesting restrictions like, for example, the ability to only skip a certain number of songs per hour (usually six). Apple wanted none of that so they ripped up all existing streaming service deals and started from scratch. That’s why it’s taking so long.
But with both Universal and Warner (mostly) in the bag, there’s a good chance Apple will have something to announce regarding their streaming plans when the Worldwide Developers Conference opens on Monday.
But why get into the streaming business at all? Doesn’t iTunes already hold something like 70% of the world’s retail market for music? Well, yes–but times are changing.
Back in the day, iTunes was a way to get people to buy more iPods. And that strategy worked brilliantly through all iterations of the iPod and through the first several generations of iPhones. However, like it or not, we’re moving into an era where access to music will trump possession. If you can get any song you want, anywhere you are at anytime on whatever device you happen to have, why go through the hassle and expensive of possessing the CD, vinyl or digital file?