Apple’s iTunes store inarguably helped to change the face of home entertainment without question. While physical music sales were already dwindling thanks to the emergence of services such as Napster in the early 00s – which allowed listeners to purchase MP3s and WMAs on a legal basis, at a time when file sharing was at an all-time high – part of Apple’s approach to marketing their iPod and iPhone ranges came hand in hand with the iTunes store. This was an interface which revolutionized how we paid for music, movies, TV shows and even books – and for a very long time, it was amazingly convenient. Now, however, with the continued rise of subscription streaming and eat-all-you-want music and video from the likes of Spotify and Netflix, industry insiders are suggesting that iTunes’ days could be numbered as soon as next year.
Apple is no stranger to streaming, having launched Apple Music to rival the market dominance of Spotify in recent years – however, if insider sources are to be believed (via a leaked email thought to have been picked up by Metro) – there is suggestion that iTunes will no longer be accepting LPs for submission beyond March 2018. If the email is to be believed, this clearly signals a shift towards the model that is dominating the home entertainment market – subscription streaming. It’s not the first time that talk of bringing physical download purchases to a close has emerged via Apple, however – though the horse’s mouth has made steps to claim that there are no immediate plans to retire iTunes at all.
Apple Music currently oversees a subscription base of over 40 million people who are paying for streaming, meaning that it may well be the case that the brand chooses to shift focus over from the storefront system over to the ad hoc streaming solution which has become the solid norm. It’s bizarre how quickly ad hoc streaming has overtaken physical purchasing – while there will always be people who love to collect home media, it seems that the vast majority of people who are listening to music and watching movies on the go may be keen to stick with subscription services for the foreseeable future.
iTunes isn’t dead yet – the news that Apple may be retiring its landmark service is conjecture at this point – but with news that the software may be biting the dust this time next year, it may be time to start making the most of the interface while it lasts.