It's taken a while for Apple to get its antipodean ducks in a row, but Apple's iTunes Radio service is now available to Australian users.
As Apple puts it, "iTunes Radio is a free Internet radio service featuring over 100 stations and an incredible catalogue of music from the iTunes Store".
Apple provides more than 100 stations (including Hot Today, Hot Alternative, iTunes Hits - '80s, '90s & Now, and First Play) or you can start a new station based on a particular genre, artist or song.
The special sauce is that iTunes Radio adapts to the music played and downloaded by each user.
In our initial testing, the most obvious omission was an 'up next' list. Each song seemed to be downloaded in its entirety very quickly (in around 5 seconds) rather than being streamed with a small buffer, so it would be useful to remove songs from the channel list before they were downloaded, especially as you can't skip more than six songs per channel per hour.
iTunes Radio is understandably financed by advertising. That would not be an issue if the ads were audio-only, but streaming a hi-res video ad takes a disproportionate amount of bandwidth - especially in Australian conditions where almost everybody is either subject to a download cap or faces substantial charges for excess usage.
Users that have an iTunes Match subscription ($34.99 a year) are spared the ads.
The other source of revenue for Apple is the 'buy' button for the currently playing track. ($2.19 for 99 Luftballons? Tell 'em they're dreamin'!)
iTunes Radio is accessible from the iTunes application (version 11.1 or later). Select 'Music' from the Library popup menu, and then the Radio tab.
It is also available on devices running iOS 7 as well as Apple TV 6.0.