Most speculation about Apple’s plans for streaming music points to a Spotify-like on-demand service. The Wall Street Journal thinks different. In a report published a few hours ago, the paper claims Apple is setting its streaming sights on a more Pandora-like personal radio service instead.

The WSJ’s sources point to a service that will run across iOS devices and Macs, and “possibly” on PCs, but suggest that licensing negotiations with labels have only just started. Interesting, given that Pandora doesn’t have direct deals with labels (a situation that has kept the service firmly out of the good books of the likes of UMG digital boss Rob Wells).

Apple wants “a greater degree of interactivity” than would be allowed by Pandora-style compulsory licences, reckons the WSJ.

Apple’s entry into the personal radio market would be hugely disruptive, and not just for Pandora – watch its share price tonight, incidentally. Spotify is using its radio feature as the (free) entry point for its mobile app in the US, while Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio has also been growing well.

Two more thoughts. First: personal radio could be just the thing to fire up Apple’s much-maligned iAd mobile advertising network – estimated to be generating a lot less revenues than Pandora’s apps.

Two: The key question for any new Apple service is whether it will sell more of the company’s devices. If an ‘iRadio’-type service does launch, that will be the main reason. But it’s still an ‘if’.

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