Wednesday, September 11, 2013

iTunes Radio Will Launch September 18th

AFP PHOTO/Josh Edelson
Steve Knopper/RollingStone

Apple, the company that revolutionized music a decade ago, whooshed through its biggest music development during a press conference for the new iPhone today in Cupertino, California. The long-expected iTunes Radio will make its debut September 18th with an estimated 200 other new features as part of the new iOS 7 software. While it's widely predicted to be similar to a more established rival, Pandora, the service will be revolutionary in that streamed songs will lead users to "buy" buttons via iTunes. "Everybody agrees it's going to be good for the business," Jim Urie, president of distribution for Universal Music, the world's biggest record label, said recently.

But iTunes Radio is far from the sexiest new development coming out of the Apple campus today. The company's longtime marketing chief, Philip Schiller, announced two new phones -- the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C. The 5S will contain a chip that makes it 40 times faster than the original iPhone, a fingerprint reader called Touch ID, a motion monitor that allows step-counting and enables improved health-and-fitness apps; and an improved camera allowing better photos in minimal light and a "burst" of 10 frames per second. The phone will come in three different colors: Gray, silver and gold.

The 5C will cost $99 (for 16 GB) to $199 (for 32), while the 5S will range from $199 to $399. Minus contracts from mobile companies, the 5C is a lot higher -- as much as $649. The 5C will be available for pre-order on September 13th. Both go on sale on the 20th.

"It's the most forward-thinking phone ever made," Schiller said, but the 5S is hardly as revolutionary as, say, the original iPhone or iPad. Some of its functions (like the improved camera and speed) are clearly designed to keep up with rapidly improving competitors by Google, Samsung and others. (And it's hard to see Pandora, which has owned the Internet radio space for years, standing pat while Apple dives into the market.) The 5S and the not-quite-as-exciting 5C, which simply improves the camera and the FaceTime function and adds a few extra bright colors, are likely to entice Apple loyalists to upgrade. They are unlikely to be essential devices to draw in non-Apple customers.

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