Apple’s iTunes music service is in trouble.
While total sales of content and apps through Apple’s stores were up 19% to $US4.4 billion last quarter, sales of music have fallen dramatically.
Music label executives have seen downloads through iTunes fall upward of 15% in recent months, Billboard reports.
Simultaneously, a variety of subscription music services have achieved mainstream success, including Pandora, iHeartRadio and Spotify.
The company launched iTunes Radio in September to combat these companies while bolstering sales by letting users buy songs as they’re recommended. Unfortunately, the service hasn’t done enough to boost downloads — Billboard’s source claim that only 1% to 2% of users ever buy a song through iTunes Radio.
Music label executives are hoping for Apple to radically change its music business to better address users changing consumption habits, even suggesting that Apple has to become a paid subscription service.
Previous reports claim that Apple is already looking at steps it can take to boost iTunes Radio usage, including spinning it off into a standalone app in iOS 8.
The biggest strategic change brought up in recent months, however, is the idea that Apple should bring iTunes to Android.
That would open up one of Apple’s fastest-growing business segments to the fastest-growing software platform. Billboard compares this theoretical move to Steve Jobs bringing iTunes to Windows in 2003, but there’s one big difference to consider here: that move let Apple sell the iPod to those tied to the massive Windows ecosystem.
Apple builds services to make its hardware more useful, which makes it easier to sell more devices. Putting iTunes on Android would make Google’s platform more valuable, without giving users a reason to buy Apple gadgets.
While Apple’s content business is growing quickly, the iPhone is Apple’s cash cow. Bringing iTunes to its biggest rival would require a huge change in thinking at a company that tends to make changes by small iterations. While we most certainly could see a standalone iTunes Radio app and even a subscription service this year, iTunes on Android is likely still just an idea.