Short of a new iOS device release, Fridays are rarely big news days in technology. One of those rarities was on display last Friday when Billboard announced Apple was likely to bring iTunes to Android devices later this year.
Plenty of folks have asked me in recent days what Steve Jobs would have thought of bringing iTunes to the mobile platform owned by Apple’s chief nemesis, Google. He wouldn’t have loved it, for sure. However, Jobs would probably have accepted such a move, in my opinion.
In October 2003, the late Apple co-founder reluctantly agreed to bring iTunes to Windows. In making the announcement, Jobs said “I’m here to report to you today that this has happened,” as he pointed to a sign that read, “Hell Froze Over.”
Before this, Jobs had almost derailed the move.
As recalled in October 2013 by MacLife:
“We argued with Steve a bunch [about putting iTunes on Windows], and he said no,” (former Apple vice president of Hardware Manufacturing Jon) Rubenstein recalls. “Finally, Phil Schiller and I said ‘we’re going to do it.’ And Steve said, ‘F#@k you guys, do whatever you want. You’re responsible.’ And he stormed out of the room.”
Schiller was, and remains, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
Before iTunes arrived for Windows, Apple held a mere 3.2 percent of the U.S. computer market. In one quick move, the company was able to go after the other 97 percent. The rest, as they say, is history.
Because iTunes was made available on multiple computer platforms, it fast became (and remains) the most popular music service on the planet. That only happened after Jobs declared iTunes for Windows “the best Windows app ever written.”
Bringing iTunes to Android isn’t the same as launching on Windows a decade ago.
For one, Android’s share of the market isn’t anywhere near 97 percent. More importantly, music consumption is no longer focused entirely on digital downloading. Many are now are making the switch to music subscription services such as Beats Music, and Spotify. As a result, digital downloads have fallen by double digits in the past year.
Because of this, Apple is likely to announce a music subscription service alongside iTunes for Android.
Circling around to my main point, I believe Steve Jobs would have embraced bringing iTunes to Android — given the new market reality. Said another way: Jobs wouldn’t have let another service overtake iTunes.
Besides, remember that hell is already frozen. Take a look: