hero_device_rightBy now you’ll have seen our report and others from last night on Apple’s unveiling of iTunes Radio.

Unsurprisingly, various rival services were quick to tell the world how they welcomed the competition, how it validated what they’d been doing for years, and wasn’t a threat at all to their actually-superior offerings.

“This is all about selling more downloads and more devices, which is perfectly fine but let’s not kid ourselves that it will change consumer habits or the fortunes of the industry,” said Oleg Fomenko of Bloom.fm, getting in first.

“We have spent the last 13 years singularly focused on redefining radio and benefit from unrivalled intellectual property, deep experience in delivering personalized playlists, and ubiquitous product availability across every platform,” huffed Pandora. “Apple creates great products, but unless you’re in the Apple ecosystem you’re out of luck. Walled gardens don’t benefit listeners,” said Slacker. And so on.

A more independent perspective came from former MP3tunes boss Michael Robertson, who thinks iTunes Radio is a much bigger threat to AM/FM radio than it is to Pandora.

“Pandora has loyal users, tremendous awareness and a satisfying service. 70 million users a month are already in the habit of clicking the P logo to hear tune and they won’t change even for a slightly richer service,” he wrote, before warning that streaming music services with no free tier should also be on their guard.

Analyst Mark Mulligan suggests that iTunes Radio fits neatly into Apple’s cautious transition from music ownership to music access.

“Currently Apple’s device pricing strategy is dictated by storage capacity. The bigger the hard drive the higher the price. But once/if everything shifts to the cloud bigger memory capacities matter much less. This is why Apple has to go slow with the cloud.”

His view (and ours) is that Apple is moving cautiously towards a time when it will bundle access to entertainment – music, but also TV shows, films and e-books – in with the price of an iOS device. iTunes Radio is an interesting, disruptive step along that road, but still just a step.