Pandora Still Doesn't Have to Worry About Apple

Pandora Still Doesn't Have to Worry About Apple

The market may have been unimpressed by Apple's iPad reveal yesterday, but it seems as if last month's launch of iTunes Radio is a bit of a success. The consumer tech giant announced yesterday that 20 million people have streamed more than a billion songs through iTunes Radio. That's not too shabby for a service that was launched just five weeks ago.

Set aside the 20 million unique listeners figure. Apple had told us that 11 million people who upgraded to iOS 7 last month checked out iTunes Radio in its first five days of availability. In that regard, 20 million is a bit disappointing. It means that it has attracted fewer new listeners during the past four weeks than it wooed during the first week. This would normally lead one to assume that the vast majority of iOS 7 users were merely kicking the tires here, but that's where the more impressive billion-songs metric kicks in.

Simple division of a billion songs into 20 million users reveals that the average listener checked out more than 50 tunes over the past five weeks. That's more than just a kick of the tire or a test drive. Folks are using the service. How worried should Pandora be at the moment?

Well, the comforting nugget here is that Pandora served up 1.36 billion hours to its 72.7 million active listeners last month.

The average song is a little longer than four minutes, though naturally, a lot of tunes get cut short as listeners move on to something else, or start streaming a new track. For simplicity's sake, let's just generously say that the average length streamed of iTunes Radio's billion songs was four minutes. This would translate into 4 billion minutes compared to Pandora's 81.6 billion minutes. That's 40 times the tunes served, and -- again -- we're being generous by assuming that the billion tunes streamed were heard nearly all the way through.

Obviously, there are more asterisks here than the stars that Wile E. Coyote sees after one of his Acme contraptions backfires. These aren't equivalent time periods. Apple's results should be back-loaded. We'll have a clearer snapshot when Pandora reports its metrics for this month in early November. However, despite what may seem to be big numbers out of Apple, Pandora's still the undisputed champ here by a comfortable margin.

Pandora may want to include the number of songs streamed in its next update to truly put Apple in its place, just as Apple may want to let us know how many of those billion streams resulted in iTunes download sales.

Either way, Pandora's still winning this battle of the streaming brands.

Pandora isn't out of danger just yet
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Pandora Media. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. 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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Originally published