Is Apple Afraid of Taking Chances?

With October winding down, it was becoming abundantly clear that the iTunes update that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) promised this month wasn't going to happen.

Apple stopped the countdown clock early.

"The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right," an Apple spokesman told CNET yesterday. The release if iTunes 11 -- which will update the interface, as well as provide seamless iCloud integration -- is now being pushed out toward late November.

Software updates get delayed all the time, but there are a couple of reasons why this is noteworthy. The last time that Apple had something major done to iTunes -- launching the poorly received Ping social layer -- it was a dud.

There's also the recent executive shakeup at Apple. Mistakes on Apple Maps, Siri, and Apple Store staffing have resulted in the company shuffling its managerial deck.

Apple doesn't want to get this wrong.

Then again, waiting was probably a good idea.

Apple now has a chance to weigh what the tech giants are up to. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) introduced Xbox Music in early October. The digital music service will take on iTunes with MP3 purchases, Pandora (NYSE: P  ) with music discovery, and Spotify with playlist streaming. Earlier this week, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) announced a licensing deal with the last of the major labels for its fledgling Google Play platform.

Waiting may also give Apple a shot to see what Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) is up to. The satellite radio giant promised to roll out its own Pandora-like streaming service later this year in a push to attract more accounts that aren't necessarily anchored to physical receivers.

Then again, Apple could also be buying time for itself. There have been reports for weeks detailing negotiations between Apple and the record labels. Apple is apparently finally rolling out a streaming service itself. It would be a neat platform to roll out with iTunes 11, especially since it's where all of its rivals seem to be pitching their tents these days.

Then again, given the failure of Ping and how heads have rolled after the Apple Maps fiasco, will those events hold Apple back? Is it afraid to take chances for fear of failing or what is now the precedent of having someone fall on the sword if something does go wrong?

Let's hope not. A hesitant and fearful Apple isn't the one that got to be the world's most valuable tech company. Mistakes happen. Launches will sink. Apple's human, even if pushing out iTunes by another month is only going to build up even more anticipation for the ultimate product.

Streaming out loud
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 31, 2012, at 9:36 PM, appleamillion wrote:

    Apple just cant do anything right, with some people!!If they delay a product, they are afraid, if they put a product out, it isnt good enough. For a cheap stock, Apple is held to a standard, that is not expected from any of its competitors, If 70 percent of smartphones activated on ATT last quarter, that is not good enough, Apple products appeal to a certain class of people, they are not for everyone. One thing always surprises me about our fellow Americans, they have no pride in the fact that Apple is an American company, It creates everything in America, only assembles it inChina. It employs huge number of people here, including software engineers, shop people etc.Americans are never happy, they love to destroy their own companies and country, You never hear the Korens, Chinese, or Japanese foul mouthing their own products, We seem to have no pride or loyalty . Buy cheap at Walmart from China and than complain of unemployment!!!lol

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2012, at 11:35 AM, iggymod wrote:

    As a long time PC user but devoted fan of Apple portable devices, I am starting to see cracks in their facade of seamless integration and simplicity of use: ITunes Match was a great deal but actually getting into the service so that my library was fully uploaded and working took about a month's worth of patience and watching my various Itunes programs crash. Itunes itself is currently under fire from PC users for significant audio/video sync problems. Finally, I actually tried to buy a Mac to integrate and solve some whole home audio issues but ended up returning it and going back to my PC due to Apple's inability to solve what I found is a common problem with their Airplay compatible devices. Systemic problems of this magnitude are reminiscent of what Microsoft has already addressed, their layers of built up system complexity are beginning to show widespread faults and frustrate users. I sincerely hope they can overcome and solve it but it only takes one generation of failed technology to lose an entire market.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2012, at 4:54 PM, ryanalexanderson wrote:

    > You never hear the Korens, Chinese, or Japanese foul mouthing their own products, We seem to have no pride or loyalty .

    Citation needed.

    Unless you are claiming that you read Korean, Chinese, and Japanese newspapers and blogs. In Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. And determined that they don't criticize their companies.

    I think the world's largest company is fair game for criticism, personally.

    iTunes has always been a bloated product. I agree with iggymod - love Apple portable devices, not so great on the bigger systems.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2012, at 6:29 PM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    With some spare time, I just finished converting and organizing a portion of my LP and tape library using OS 9.2 on my old G4 upgraded 8600. What a pleasure that platform is to use compared with newer iSht. Processing and organizing is so much faster and straight forward on that old machine.

    Cat OS's really suck, and no one today knows what I'm talking about. I can't stand using the unix overlays. I regard Microsoft as the better platform today crossing my fingers that Windows 8 will carry on when XP is dumped in '14.

    Jobs was all about flimflam and image; so many bought into it. It appears that I am the contrarian, loving Mac's in the '90's; despising them today.

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