The Internet radio business suddenly got a lot more competitive. Less than one week after its launch, over 11 million people have already tried iTunes Radio. The figure was included in a press release Apple issued Monday morning about last week’s record-setting launch of iPhone 5s and 5c models.
It is too early to say if iTunes Radio will become a serious competitor to Pandora. To establish itself as a dominant presence in Internet radio, Apple will have to compete against companies that specialize in radio — Clear Channel, SiriusXM and Slacker, in addition to Pandora. But the release of this surprising figure suggests the pecking order of the U.S. Internet radio market might be less settled than previously thought.
The news knocked over $650 million off Pandora’s market capitalization Monday morning. Shares of Pandora, which hit an all-time high of $27.50 the day after iTunes Radio launched, were down 11% to $24.03 at midday Monday. Even so, Pandora has been flying high lately. Shares of the Oakland-based company are up 162% this year.