WWDC 2013: iTunes Radio in Pole Position to Reinvent Yet Another Industry

And thus concluded the WWDC 2013 keynote. Actually, not. But that was my own takeaway.

Craig Federighi cracked a few jokes about the lack of skeuomorphic elements in iOS7’s new design. The best line was Phil Schiller’s “can’t innovate anymore, my ass” while introducing the new Mac Pro.

There were OSX Mavericks, the new MacBook Air and the new Mac Pro, iWork in the cloud, iOS7 and more. I take it you’ve already heard about each by now if you care. I’ll defer to John Gruber and Wired for lucid commentary on iOS7.

The fact that power efficiency and battery life were omnipresent throughout the keynote seems newsworthy to me, but it didn’t seem to catch the attention of tech pundits.

  • The new 13″ MacBook Airs feature Intel’s new Haswell chip. They boast a mind-blowing 12-hours of battery life, up from 7. (I’m assuming the figures are with OSX Mountain Lion installed.)
  • OSX Mavericks boasts an entire set of battery usage optimizations. Some low level, some higher level. They promise to extend that battery life even further.
  • iOS has its own set of battery utilization optimizations. It’s finally allowing all apps to multitask as a result, allocating CPU cycles to them based on your usage patterns.

Siri’s adoption of Bing caught my attention too. It’s the latest iteration of Google leaving iOS defaults — for better or worse. In case anyone from Apple reads this, it would be sweet to get DuckDuckGo too.

iTunes Radio

The biggest news in my humble opinion was iTunes Radio.

Yes, it’s a Pandora look-alike. Or a Spotify look-alike. Or a Google unpronounceably-long look-alike. Or a whatever look-alike. If you’re thinking this, you’re simply missing the point.

This is different.

When Steve Jobs introduced iTunes’ new logo, he quipped that iTunes generated more music sales than CDs did. Apple can strong-arm the music industry into palatable deals. They’re the only ones who can.

Then, there are 300 million iTunes Match users who get the ad-free iTune Radio service. And 575 million iTunes users in total, most with a credit card on file. (The figures are from Apple’s keynote.)

That’s 300 million customers who already paid for streamed music. This is more than a proven market. It’s a customer base. 300 million users who will get immediate and free access to a new ad-free Radio service. Most of which, I suspect, will actually use it.

And there are another 275 million users to tap into, who get the free ad-supported service in the meanwhile.

Plus growth.

The thought must have sent chills through the spine of radio execs at large — both streaming and traditional.