I’ve heard some people gripe about how stupid it is that there are so many radio streaming applications on the iPhone — after all, it is the best iPod Apple ever created.
There are so many benefits to this though. The first is, that with limited choice (even on the largest capacity iPhone), you are forced to “satisfice” with what music you listen to. With radio streams available almost anywhere, your library expands indefinitely. You might make the case that you can only listen to what the radio station is playing, and they play the same stuff over and over, but the sheer quantity of stations delivered by iheartradio (for example) alone negates this.
As for the company, there are benefits there too: the radio become a visual medium (there is that huge screen available!) and you can put in visual ads, even while at the same time streaming music to the consumer. So long as the ads do not themselves contain noise (like the majority of web ads) you can simultaneously deliver advertising and music to your listeners. Everybody wins.
In addition, you can also link directly into the iTunes store, and I’m sure, score a referral fee or some such from Apple; yet another revenue stream.
It amazes me just how much free content is available to me on my iPhone, between Pandora, Last.fm, iheartradio, Stanza and Joost (once it’s works) I’m almost guarenteed to find some new music, book or video to consume.