Apple may be mulling some radical steps to counter double digit drops in iTunes sales.
Some people might not have ever considered the possibility of Apple releasing iTunes for Android, but if a recent report is true, it could happen. Apple may also be working on a Spotify rival, an on-demand music streaming service that will complement iTunes Radio, Apple’s first streaming service that was launched late last year.
Apple is said to have opened “exploratory talks” with senior music label executives about launching an on-demand streaming service, one that would be positioned as a Spotify and Beats Music rival, reports Billboard, citing three people familiar with the talks. This is believed to be a part of Apple’s multi-pronged strategy to curtail double digit decline in digital music downloads via iTunes. The second part would reportedly be an iTunes for Android application, which would open up Apple’s massive music library to Android users around the globe.
Since Google also offers a music streaming service, and digital downloads through the Play Store, it’s unclear how Apple’s decision to launch iTunes on Android will sit with the Mountain View company. Even if Apple wouldn’t have considered this possibility a few years back, data shows that this will only serve its interests. According to Nielsen SoundScan, US digital album sales on iTunes are down 13 percent for week ended March 9th, while digital track sales are down 11 percent as compared to last year. Launching on Android will give iTunes access to a significantly larger user base, given that its no secret that Android holds the lion’s share in the global mobile market.
On the other hand, revenue from streaming services has increased. A report released by the Recording Industry Association of America reveals that streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify generated over $1.4 billion through subscription, licensing and advertising revenues in the U.S. last year, posting a 39 percent bumped as opposed to 2012. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s recent report paints a similar picture, with global music streaming revenue surging by 51 percent and digital downloads dipping 2.1 percent.
Apple is also expected to release iTunes Radio as a standalone app in iOS 8. This would help the company market it better, and update it frequently when it isn’t attached to the core OS as a native application. The major difference between iTunes Radio and a new on-demand streaming service would be that users will have more control over the music, without being interrupted by ads. It’s unclear if the new streaming service will also be opened up to other platforms like Android. A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the talks when contacted by the scribe. Apparently the talks are in a very early stage, so it could go either way.