Apple Streaming Media Patent Filing Hints at New Approach for iTunes Store

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A new patent filing from Apple may be a sign of changes to the way Apple presents music recommendations at the iTunes store. That change was hinted at last December when Apple acquired the streaming music site, Lala.

The patent application lists Ryan Dixon, Digital Album Content Manager at iTunes, as the inventor, and provides a description of how such a recommendation system might work, along with the possibility of advertising in the streamed content. The patent filing is:

Personalized streaming digital content
Invented by Ryan Graeme Dixon
Assigned to Apple
US Patent Application 20100049862
Published February 25, 2010
Filed August 21, 2008


A method for generating personalized streaming content, the method including the steps of analyzing a digital library of a user associated with a user account, generating recommended digital media based on analysis of the digital library, generating personalized streaming content that includes digital media from the digital library and recommended digital media.

This streaming media system would personalize what someone would hear or view, beginning by analyzing a users digital library, including downloaded digital media and possibly digital media imported from DVDs and CDs.

It could also look at purchases as well as searches and listening and viewing habits, to identify trends and make recommendations.

The personalized streamed content might include:

  • Digital media already purchased online by the user,
  • Other digital media in the user’s library,
  • Digital media recommended by the personalization algorithm, and;
  • Advertisements.

The patent filing tells us that including advertisements in the streamed content “provides an opportunity for the online store to generate revenue from sources other than its users.”

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13 thoughts on “Apple Streaming Media Patent Filing Hints at New Approach for iTunes Store”

  1. This is good, including advertisements which is related to a personalized streamed content will surely boost sales. Will be retweeting this.

  2. I don’t agree. Including ads in the personalized streamed content is something I would not want in there. If I buy from iTunes I buy that song or video. No more additional advertisements.

  3. Hi Andrew,

    The patent application doesn’t say, but it does read as if there wouldn’t be a charge to listen or view streaming digital content. The more things in your digital library, and the more purchases you make, the easier it would be for them to personalize what you listen to, but the service sounds like it could be pretty competitive with other streaming music sites on the Web.

    I was a little surprised to read that they would put advertisements in the digital stream, but radio stations have been doing that for a long time. Also, Apple’s recent acquisition of Quattro Wireless points to the fact that Apple isn’t adverse to advertising as a business model. I imagine that there are plenty of businesses that wouldn’t mind advertising on iTunes, if a streaming digital system like this is set up.

  4. Hi Richard,

    I suspect that you would still be able to visit iTunes and buy the songs or videos that you wanted to without listening to or viewing streaming media or having to listen to advertisements as well.

    Just thinking out loud here, but do you think that people would pay for a premium version of this service that would leave out the ads? That could be interesting.

  5. I agree with Richard, no more ads. When I buy songs I just look at, you guessed it, the song. Not interested in advertising, and am sure I would not click on it.

  6. I hate when companies I buy something from uses the information of that sale to get me to buy other products. For me this would just make me less likely to use ITunes.

  7. Hi Katerine and Mike,

    I wouldn’t be surprised to hear or see ads within audio or video if Apple decides to offer streaming media at the iTunes store. I don’t know that there would be anything to click upon. The ads described seem to be more like the ads that you might hear on the radio or see on television when you’re listening to music or watching videos.

    I believe that Amazon has been using information about what you purchase, view on their site, and search for to offer recommendations on other things that you might like for a number of years.

  8. I think this goes to show you how much Twitter has impacted content/media delivery. While Google required a search, Twitter mandates the news and media you desire come to you without searching for it. This sounds like Apple is taking a step in this direction….

  9. Hi Andrew,

    Interesting point. I wasn’t really thinking of twitter vs. search when I wrote this post, but rather on the recommendations that we might see if Apple launches a digital media stream.

    I do think Google is moving more towards recommendations in the search results we see. While we do have to enter a query, we aren’t just give a set of web pages to choose from that match our keywords, but also usually a set of suggested related queries, and sometimes alternative type results such as images, videos, news, blog posts, twitter results and more. We might also receive customized search results based upon our location and possibly previous searches we performed, as well.

  10. This is true Bill. It would be interesting to see what iTunes came up with after searching mine or others media libraries. I will see as far as programs like Pandora go, I am very impressed with their ability to match my tendencies with excellent recommendations for music. This streaming content sounds similiar to that. Again great post it makes for an interesting discussion!

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