Pandora will ditch its 40 hour limit on mobile streaming, the internet radio company has announced, raising its game ahead of Apple's iTunes Radio launch later this year. The decision, which was announced as part of Pandora's latest quarterly financial results, is possible thanks to the "rapid progress of its mobile advertising" the company says, which will offset royalty costs.
Pandora announced it would be limiting mobile streaming users earlier this year, with the cap coming into effect in March 2013. At the time, the streaming company blamed the rapidly rising cost of licensing music from copyright owners.
However, now Pandora claims that, not only is it able to afford to cover those costs, but that the cap itself only affected a minority of its users anyway. In fact, Pandora says, the limit "affected fewer than four percent of total monthly active listeners."
Pandora's timing on the decision is unlikely to be entirely random. Apple is expected to launch iTunes Radio, its own customized streaming music service, alongside the new iPhone 5S at an event in early September. Announced back at WWDC earlier this year, iTunes Radio borrows the idea of advertising supported playback from Pandora (and similar services), and will be offered to all iOS and iTunes users free of charge.
Meanwhile, those subscribing to iTunes Match will get advert-free playback. Pandora offers its own ad-free option, though it's more expensive, currently at $36 for a year's subscription or $3.99 if paid month-to-month; iTunes Match is $24.99 annually.