Apple music downloads through the company’s iTunes Music Store are not publicly scheduled for termination. A couple of reports were published by a single source with anonymous insider tips and Apple has refuted both of them. I want to be clear here – I’m not suggesting that sources that wish to remain anonymous are not to be used by news publications, only that in this case, the sources could just as easily have been from the publication itself.
There was a report back in 2016 on a publication called Digital Music News which suggested a phase-out of music downloads from the iTunes Store. Their report suggested this phase-out would happen both “within 2 years” and “3-4 years on the longer side.” This leaves a rather wide window for said phase-out to occur.
This week the same source claimed they had more sources saying Apple would phase their music downloads out soon. They suggested that the phase-out would happen “by 2019.” That gives Apple just over a year to completely cut music downloads from their iTunes Store.
Why would Apple do that?
The last time Apple made a sweeping all-users move like this, they gave every iTunes user a U2 album. It was not a pretty picture.
Over at 9to5Mac there’s a series of denials from Apple, all of which are either “it’s not true” or “simply not true.” Apple wouldn’t take the time to respond at all if there were any grain of reality to the suggestion – but their response does tell us something.
It tells us that the iTunes Music downloads business is still important enough for Apple to take a stand on its existence. Any hint that this still-important piece of the music industry might be leaving Apple would be a disaster for the company, especially in light of the fact that Apple’s biggest competitor, Google, isn’t about to do any such phasing.
Especially once we lose Net Neutrality, the slower internet speeds we’ll be beholden to won’t fare well with streaming music users. At that point, music downloads will reign supreme once again. That and vinyl record purchases.