Despite being the new kid, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes Radio already feels like it may be the online service to beat in many ways; iTunes Radio debuts on September 18, and will really challenge Pandora (NYSE:P) in a number of key areas. Whether the hiring of CEO Brian McAndrews was a direct response to the Apple release or not, the addition of a top executive with extensive online advertising experience comes at a critical time for Pandora. McAndrews's previous experience at AQuantive, which was ultimately bought by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), has led some to speculate that he is coming in to prepare the current online music leader for a takeover bid from Mr. Softy.
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What is clear is that with such a significant portion of Pandora's revenue coming from ads, remaining competitive in this area is key. If Pandora is to survive against Apple iTunes Radio's ability to integrate with iTunes, as well as several pending enhancements, it must drive growth. In the video below, I discuss how Apple is putting itself in the driver's seat with the launch of iTunes Radio and what it could mean for Pandora.