UK-based streaming music startup Bloom.fm says it has been blocked from using iAds on the grounds that it's a competitor to Apple's iTunes Radio, which is expected to launch in the UK in the coming months.
Bloom.fm tweeted the news on Wednesday, claiming that "Apple just banned our ads because we're a competitive service to iTunes Radio and it is against Apple policy'. We must be big time now."
"They stopped us advertising a few weeks ago and we were unclear why. Then we received an email from our marketing agency saying that it was against their policy to advertise competing services," Bloom.fm's marketing director Jon Clark told The Guardian.
"We're amused by this rather than frustrated. It's just pretty funny really. We're a tiny app, so we're surprised they even noticed what we were doing."
Bloom.fm launched as an iPhone app in January 2013 in the UK only. Users can stream personalised radio channels for free, then pay £1, £5 or £10 a month to store 20, 200 or as many tracks as they like on their device to play on demand. Since launched for Android too, the company has more than 1m registered users.
"We've advertised with them on and off since launch, and we've been advertising pretty consistently with them for the past few months, so this came out of the blue," said Clark. "We dabble in lots of different digital advertising, though, so they're not a big part of our marketing mix. It makes no difference to our growth plans at all."
Bloom.fm reached 500,000 registered users in November 2013, so has been adding around 111,000 new users a month since then. Clark said that those new users are split roughly equally between iPhone and Android, although the company is not divulging how many active users it has, nor how many of those have chosen to sign up to a subscription.
Clark said that Bloom.fm is unlikely to complain to advertising authorities about the iAd ban. "I'm not sure. I don't think it's worth much of our time," he said. Instead, Bloom.fm is putting its energies into finishing the website version of its service, which is currently in closed beta.
Apple launched iTunes Radio in the US in September 2013, before rolling it out to Australia in February. The Bloom.fm block suggests that its debut in the UK is imminent, although a report in Billboard this week claimed that iTunes Radio has so far been a disappointment to its music industry partners.
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