Apple is reportedly going to going to unveil a Pandora-like streaming radio service Monday at WWDC, its big developers conference.
iRadio, as it’s being called, will definitely take a back seat to the big news of the day, which is an expected redesign of iOS, the software that powers iPhones and iPads.
But that doesn’t mean Apple’s iRadio isn’t important.
We’ll be looking at iRadio for one reason in particular: We want to see if Apple can produce a new software service that actually works, and works well.
Apple’s most recent attempts at software services like the Podcast app, Maps, iTunes Match, and Siri have all been buggy. If iRadio is also a buggy mess, then it’s going to be genuinely worrisome for Apple.
As CEO Tim Cook said repeatedly, Apple’s strength is that it does hardware, software, and services.
However, its services are weak, especially compared to its chief rival, Google. Google’s Maps are better than Apple’s Maps. Google has Gmail, while Apple’s iCloud email isn’t all that popular, or great. Google Now is a much better vision for a personal assistant than Siri.
Apple’s iOS software, and its hardware design, are better than Android, or anything Android’s partners do.
However, Google is improving its software at a greater rate than Apple is improving its services. And, HTC has arguably produced a piece of hardware with HTC One that is as good as, or better than, the iPhone 5.
In other words, Apple’s rivals are closing the gap in hardware and software faster than Apple is closing the gap in services.
As Apple fights with Google to win over the next batch of smartphone owners, it’s going to need great services.
Right now, it’s unclear if Apple is up to the task. iRadio should give us some clues.
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