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Updated: Apple Could Pull the Plug on iTunes Music Downloads Within 2 Years

A ubiquitous part of the Apple experience may soon dissapear
May 11, 2016

Update: In a statement to Re/Code, a spokesman denied that Apple is planning to end iTunes music downloads.

“Not true,” said Apple rep Tom Neumayr.

Neumayr wouldn’t expand on that comment, except to make it clear that he was responding to both timelines proposed in today’s story from Digital Music News.

Original Story:

Downloading music from Apple’s iTunes could eventually be a thing of the past. That’s according to new information from Digital Music News.

A number of different options

A number of different options

Here’s more from the report:

Apple is now preparing to completely terminate music download offerings on the iTunes Store, with an aggressive, two-year termination timetable actively being considered and gaining favor.  According to sources to Digital Music News with close and active business relationships with Apple, discussions are now focused “not on if, but when” music downloads should be retired for good.

Other plans on the table, according to the site, include keeping downloads around for the next three to four years while streaming music continues to gain favor with consumers. A shutdown could also be staggered depending on the country:

According to the same sources, Apple’s termination could be staggered depending on the country.  The reason is that rollouts and adoption rates can be completely different depending on the global region, with some countries yet to embrace streaming music (music less Apple Music).  According to one source, an initial shutdown could take place in ‘tier 1’ countries like the United States, UK, and leading countries in Europe and Asia, with ‘tier 2’ and ‘tier 3’ countries experiencing a staggered shutdown in subsequent years.

Looking to the future

Looking to the future
Apple Music has around 13 million subscribers.

Apple Music has around 13 million subscribers.

There are reportedly two main drivers to terminate music downloads – quickly declining music sales and a desire to streamline Apple’s music-related properties. Apple Music is also a big part of the equation. Officially launched almost a year ago, the streaming service has 13 million subscribers according to the most recent information from the company.

It really shouldn’t come as a big surprise to see that Apple is considering turning off the iTunes Store for good. It would solve a number of different problems and allow the company to focus firmly on the future – which is streaming music. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually purchased a song or album from iTunes.