iTunes Radio Vs. Pandora

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With the iOS7 launch, Apple has also come up with a new music service, iTunes Radio. Though there are already many satellite radio services around, let us check out whether the new Apple launch can challenge the dominance of Pandora.

Tough Competition!

iTunes Radio had about 11 million listeners in just five days since its launch on 18th September. This figure shows that this product is catching up in popularity with Pandora.

Apple’s latest launch, iTunes Radio, on 18th September, 2013, has brought the company into the online radio market. This new feature is available in iTunes 11.1. Though Pandora’s September statistics show no change in listener and active user numbers due to the iTunes Radio launch, we will have to wait for at least a month to know the exact impact.

From the usability and features point of view, we at Buzzle, have compared the latest launch with its competitor, Pandora!

iTunes and Pandora Comparison

iTunes Radio Pandora
Mac, PC, and Apple mobile devices Mac, PC, and all mobile devices
Ad-free Service
$24.99/year $36/year
US alone US, New Zealand, Australia
Facebook, AirDrop, Mail, Messages, Twitter Facebook, Twitter
Cloud Sharing
Available Not Available
Audio Quality
Not Released (256 Kbps for iTunes) 192 Kbps (Premium), 64 Kbps (Free)
Play More Like This, Never Play Thumbs-up, Thumbs-down
Song Skips
6 skips per station per hour 6 skips per hour per station
(12 skips for the whole day across all stations)


iTunes Radio

This year, Apple is on a roll with the introduction of a number of features in iOS7. With the iTunes Radio launch, this trend continues. The slider feature lets you play music according to your taste and mood. You can change the slider settings from ‘Top Hits’ to ‘Discovery’ and ‘Mix’. With iOS7 integration, Siri will be more than obliged to help you in your music search. You can ask Siri to get you music from your favorite artist. The other feature that has kept fans interested is the airtight integration with iTunes. This means you can purchase the song that you are currently listening to. You can skip, forward, or repeat any song, for a maximum of six times per station per hour.


As far as Pandora is concerned, the distinguishing feature will be its universality. Unlike the former, Pandora can be found on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, as well as for Mac, desktop computers, and even television sets. As Pandora follows the guidelines for Internet radio, you cannot skip more than 12 songs in 24 hours. And yes, there are no song repeat or rewind features available.

Suggestion Algorithms

iTunes Radio

Apple undoubtedly is the largest digital music seller in the world. Going with this reputation, the song suggestion algorithm of their radio service can never be doubted. The users’ listening and buying habits are considered by the algorithm, and based on this analysis suggestions are given.


For Pandora, the Music Genome Project does the trick. Each and every track that is added to the radio’s suggestion lists, is passed by a pair of human ears, and then are linked with similar songs across different categories. Apart from this, user feedback on each song is also considered by the song selection algorithm before giving any music suggestion—a rare technique which has worked wonders for Pandora in the past.

Music Diversity

iTunes Radio

Apple has tied up with the three biggies of the music industry—Sony, Warner, and Universal. With these deals, their music library is definitely going to increase, with even pre-released tracks being played.


On the other hand, as of 2013, Pandora has about 1 million songs in its library from more than 100,000 artists. With iTunes Radio just being launched, comparison on basis of music diversity is still too early.


iTunes Radio

It comes with a station-sharing feature, where you can easily share your customized stations via AirDrop, Mail, Messages, Twitter, and Facebook. Shared stations will keep changing as per your taste when you change the slider settings.


It has recently allowed sharing on Twitter and Facebook with new and improved features.

iTunes and Pandora are both free to use when it comes to ad-supportive versions. However, if you wish to use ad-free services, you need to pay subscription fees. Apple offers ad-free services at $24.99 per year, while Pandora is a bit more expensive at $36 per year for its premium membership, which removes all ads and also improves audio quality.


Pandora, being the oldest Internet radio service amongst the two, has a loyal user base. However, with Apple’s iTunes stores being available in 119 countries, its global presence will expand once iTunes Radio is launched outside the US. With three music label collaborations, Apple looks promising enough to beat Pandora. However, don’t give up on the latter just yet!

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