The curious design decisions of Apple’s iTunes Radio

“I’ve certainly been using it a lot, but I keep going back to Rdio because of iTunes Radio’s bizarre limitations and frustrations,” Graham Spencer writes for MacStories. “At the top of the list is the mind-boggling decision to limit users to 6 song skips per hour — regardless of whether or not you are a paying member of iTunes Match. Sure, that limitation can be side-stepped by setting up multiple similar stations (Alternative Radio and Alt-Pop Radio, for example), but then you run into the issue of songs being repeated too often. Besides, why should I need to create and switch between stations if I don’t want to hear some songs?”

“In a similar vein, tough luck if you want to replay a song immediately, let alone seek back 30 seconds to the chorus,” Spencer writes. “Or maybe you accidentally forgot to pause iTunes Radio, left the room, and now want to go back two songs so you can hear them — well, sorry, but you can’t.”

“I find a lot of the choices Apple made in iTunes Radio to be really peculiar,” Spencer writes. “Unfortunately, a lot of them seem like compromises in order to keep their iTunes Music Store from being undermined, or maybe it was because this was the only way they were going to succeed in their negotiations with the record labels to launch the service… Apple has repeatedly shown that it is unafraid to cannibalise even the most successful of its businesses with new products. The iTunes Music Store is certainly successful, but its contributions to the firm’s profits are minimal compared to their hardware businesses, so it is odd to me that they would handicap iTunes Radio in the ways that they have. So although Eddy Cue and Apple in general are known to be ferocious negotiators, I can’t help but feel maybe they were forced into a corner when negotiating with the music labels over iTunes Radio.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Explicit content slips through Apple’s iTunes Radio profanity filters – March 31, 2014
NPR brings live streaming news to Apple’s iTunes Radio, more channels on the way – March 24, 2014
With iOS 8, Apple may give iTunes Radio to its own app to boost usage – March 12, 2014
Apple’s iTunes Radio already 3rd most popular music streaming service in USA – March 11, 2014
Following Apple’s iTunes Radio, me-too Samsung introduces new ‘Milk Music’ streaming radio service – March 8, 2014
Apple delivers iTunes Radio to Australia – February 10, 2014
Parts of Apple’s iTunes Radio service flicker on in Australia, UK, and Canada – January 25, 2014
iTunes Radio heats up music streaming battle as service spreads beyond U.S. – December 14, 2013
Apple releases iTunes 11.1 with iTunes Radio – September 18, 2013


  1. The ‘designer’ of iTunes Radio is Eddie Cue. The same guy who ‘designed’ iBooks for Mac. Both screw ups of the first order.

    Apple designers seem to design with one eye on completely destroying user friendliness. And dumbing down software to the point of imbecility.

  2. I think Steve would have been the very one to be unafraid of cannibalizing current products and simply go ahead and cut the ‘older’ products soon after to keep Apple’s product line streamlined.. The way they are going now they are gradually going back to the days of product line bloat.

  3. I have tried short lists to define a station and very long lists to define a station and the results are just as bad either way. I think some of the problem is the category tagging iTunes assigns to a particular song- their definitions and mine are far from the same.

    What iTunes calls Alt or Pop or Rock or Soul or whatever are kind of strange.

    Anyhow, iTunes Radio was and still is lame. I tunes Match is also kind of strange and probably for the same reasons. If you edit the tags on your music and then sub to iTunes Match it goes all stooped on you and cannot figure out that The Beatles- Fixing a Hole reclassified as 1960’s Pop is the same as The Beatles- Fixing A Hole as Pop or Rock or whatever tag Apple assigns. It also mismatches versions of a song Live vs Studio or Remastered vs Original.

  4. The design decision I hate is ITR’s inability to “fine tune” a station by liking or disliking songs, a feature I use a lot on Pandora.

    I have been using ITS quite a bit and I like it OK, but the technology behind choosing the songs to play on a station is really primitive. I have an “Emerson Lake & Palmer” station and it plays a few relevant songs, but really the station could be called Soft Rock or Classic Rock or something. Nothing to do with ELP that I can see.

  5. Retail cost will make or break all of these alleged innovations. No doubt Apple employs great people not unlike all other great companies as talent is no exclusive to Apple, but some many great inventions and evolutionary products simply never make it to market due to high input costs and resulting retail prices.

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