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Fewer people in the US visited Beats Music in April than a year earlier, right before Apple unveiled its takeover, making it the only service among the six main competitors in online streaming music to see that traffic fall, according to traffic scorekeeper ComScore. Internet radio service Pandora, on-demand streamer Spotify, user-uploaded audio site SoundCloud, and subscription services Rhapsody and Rdio all had increasing visits to their sites and apps across desktop and mobile between May 2014 and April 2015 -- while Beats' unique visitors slipped to 1.1 million from 1.4 million. By comparison, April saw Pandora rack up 86 million visitors and Spotify reach 38 million.

In fact, Beats was the only service to see its visitors drop below the 1 million mark during the last year, In July, ComScore counted only 941,000 unique visitors, Beats Music's brand perception struggled as well, Immediately after Apple said it would buy Beats, the subscription service's appeal was modestly positive, based on a "Buzz score" by YouGov BrandIndex, Beats Music scored 3.3, meaning 3.3 percent more people viewed it positively than negatively, One year later, that score slipped to 0.6, and it m sport iphone case dipped into negative territory once, While Pandora's favorability also saw ups and downs, its appeal always far outstripped Beats, most recently at about 15..

Apple may be coming to the subscription game late, but it benefits from unique advantages. The world's most valuable company, Apple sits on a huge stockpile of cash ($193.5 billion as of the end of March), especially compared with companies like Spotify and Pandora that are still trying to figure out how to be profitable. Even though Apple typically doesn't enter businesses where it loses money, it could operate a subscription service at a loss as long as it fuels its more profitable hardware sales.

If the company can convert a fraction of those iTunes users into people paying a monthly rate, it would tip the number of worldwide music subscribers over the 100 million threshold m sport iphone case that Silverman marks as a turning point for streaming music becoming a sustainable business model, "That can change the music business in one year," he said, But the lesson of iTunes Radio shows how Apple can misfire despite its advantages, Before launching its Internet radio product in 2013, anticipation was high that Apple could be creating a "Pandora killer." But Pandora's listening stats continued to grow unabated, and iTunes Radio has failed to gain significant traction..

"They came up against Pandora with a water pistol," said Crupnick of MusicWatch. Crupnick's annual music study found iTunes Radio accounts for just 5 percent of the listening hours among the major streaming services, which includes Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and YouTube. He found that only about 10 percent of the US population on the Internet use iTunes Radio, compared with 16 percent for Spotify -- a much smaller company -- and 35 percent for Pandora. The challenge in streaming music is less about the company and more about who will change consumer beliefs about paying for music subscriptions, Crupnick said. "What is it that Apple can say to the market that is different than what Spotify has said, or Rdio or Tidal or Rhapsody?"Being late to the game has never hurt the company in the past. It wasn't the first to make a digital music player, smartphone or tablet, but the iPod, iPhone and iPad dominated their competitors. Analysts believe Apple Watch can make inroads in the wearable market where other pioneers flopped.