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Forget iTunes, Apple is said to be launching a Pandora style music streaming service, sources say.

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The service would provide users an Internet based radio station with custom tracks and other similar music genres and artists, via mobile apps or web browser for PC.

The ‘virtual’ service flagged by the WSJ, citing sources,  would pit Apple against popular streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, services, which already have a large base of users who prefer free or ‘freeium’ streaming from a cloud based service rather than buying tracks off iTunes.

Although iTunes has still millions of users it is looked upon as a bit outdated compared to new generation Internet streaming rivals that have popped up, in recent years.

Spotify launched in Australia earlier this year and has also been popularised by its tie-in with Facebook.

However, the catch with the Apple-operated service is it will only work on iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad and Mac, and possibly Microsoft Windows 8 OS, but not on rival Android devices, sources indicate.

The service would be free to use but funded by ads.

Pandora Internet Radio’s has almost 55 million subscribers and works by dropping the name of avourite songs, artists or genres into its system and scans the world of music – new and old – to find tracks with interesting similarities.

 

And if the iOS service is anything like Pandora’s, users could have up to 100 unique “stations” with everything from Pop, Rocks and Jazz playing on its custom channels.

Apple is negotiating its own licensing deals with various record companies, the Journal also states, in order to have “a greater degree of interactivity” for users, rather than compulsory licenses used by Pandora et al who operate under more restrictions and are forced pay usage royalties to the US Federal government. 

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