Is Apple Afraid of Taking Chances?


With October winding down, it was becoming abundantly clear that the iTunes update that Apple (NAS: AAPL) promised this month wasn't going to happen.

Apple stopped the countdown clock early.

"The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right," an Apple spokesman told CNET yesterday. The release if iTunes 11 -- which will update the interface, as well as provide seamless iCloud integration -- is now being pushed out toward late November.

Software updates get delayed all the time, but there are a couple of reasons why this is noteworthy. The last time that Apple had something major done to iTunes -- launching the poorly received Ping social layer -- it was a dud.

There's also the recent executive shakeup at Apple. Mistakes on Apple Maps, Siri, and Apple Store staffing have resulted in the company shuffling its managerial deck.

Apple doesn't want to get this wrong.

Then again, waiting was probably a good idea.

Apple now has a chance to weigh what the tech giants are up to. Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) introduced Xbox Music in early October. The digital music service will take on iTunes with MP3 purchases, Pandora (NYS: P) with music discovery, and Spotify with playlist streaming. Earlier this week, Google (NAS: GOOG) announced a licensing deal with the last of the major labels for its fledgling Google Play platform.

Waiting may also give Apple a shot to see what Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) is up to. The satellite radio giant promised to roll out its own Pandora-like streaming service later this year in a push to attract more accounts that aren't necessarily anchored to physical receivers.

Then again, Apple could also be buying time for itself. There have been reports for weeks detailing negotiations between Apple and the record labels. Apple is apparently finally rolling out a streaming service itself. It would be a neat platform to roll out with iTunes 11, especially since it's where all of its rivals seem to be pitching their tents these days.

Then again, given the failure of Ping and how heads have rolled after the Apple Maps fiasco, will those events hold Apple back? Is it afraid to take chances for fear of failing or what is now the precedent of having someone fall on the sword if something does go wrong?

Let's hope not. A hesitant and fearful Apple isn't the one that got to be the world's most valuable tech company. Mistakes happen. Launches will sink. Apple's human, even if pushing out iTunes by another month is only going to build up even more anticipation for the ultimate product.

Streaming out loud
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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