BTIG research analyst Richard Greenfield has reiterated his prediction that Apple will launch its rumoured 'iRadio' service this year, claiming that Apple is in negotiations with music labels to gain access to song catalogs.

"Consumer behaviour (is) increasingly shifting toward access to a music catalog from ownership of specific songs," Greenfield said in his media predictions for 2013 on Thursday. "We expect iRadio to be incorporated into the iTunes iOS app with personalized radio functionality akin to Pandora, integrated with iTunes to purchase music an other music related content such as concert information/tickets/merchandise via Live Nation (LYV) and Ticketmaster."

When Apple launched iTunes 11 in November, the introduction of a new dedicated Radio button was seen as evidence of the rumoured service that could aim to take on Pandora and Spotify by Greenfield, who said: "Apple's iTunes 11 has made the current generation "Radio" product far more prominent, adding it to the horizontal feature bar that runs across the top of the screen."

"While the service underlying that Radio button is unappealing to most consumers today, we believe the radio service can easily be updated to incorporate the functionality we envisioned in our October blog post," Greenfield continued. "We continue to believe an iRadio product is critical for Apple to create a local advertising/commerce strategy, tying together Maps, Passbook, Siri and a new music service (which we are calling iRadio for now.)"

In the October blog post mentioned above, Greenfield said that he expects iRadio to be "vastly superior to Pandora because Apple is unwilling to settle for compulsory music licenses."

"Instead, expect iRadio to seek direct deals with labels at premium rates enabling iRadio to offer a superior feature set," Greenfield continued. Those features could include a global solution, unlike sites like Pandora which are limited to the US, as well as increased skips and extended caching to enable uninterrupted listening even while travelling.

In 2009, Apple confirmed its acquisition of music streaming site Lala, which it later shut down, fuelling speculation that the company is planning to use the Lala platform to launch its own service.

It was rumoured that Apple would introduce its radio service alongside the iPhone 5 and iTunes 11 at its 12 September special event. But, reports suggest that Apple was forced to delay iRadio's debut following problems with the negotiations with Sony/ATV.

See also:

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