Apple iTunes: A Global Media Giant

| Analysis

Apple's iTunes business is so large, if it were split apart from Apple it would be one of the world's largest media companies. Bloomberg noted that iTunes 2012 sales of US$8.5 billion was more than The New York Times, Warner Bros. film studios, Simon & Schuster, and Time Inc., combined.

iTunes Media Giant

To be sure, some of the largest media holding companies, like Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and Disney, bring in much more than iTunes, but iTunes still makes Apple a media powerhouse. iTunes sales are also growing 35 percent year-over-year, much faster than any of the traditional media companies can claim.

As noted by Bloomberg's Edmund Lee, this is often overlooked by observers who think of Apple as a hardware company.

Indeed, there are so many billions in Apple's SEC filings, it's easy to lose sight of how large the company has become in many different ways. Apple is the world's largest consumer of semiconductors, for instance, and earlier on Monday TMO reported that Apple is now the second largest phone maker in the U.S., and that counts feature phones and smartphones.

$8.5 billion in music, movie, TV, and app sales, however, make Apple a media giant, and the company's 435 million credit card accounts registered through iTunes makes it a giant that media producers listen to.

The four companies listed in the opening paragraph, for instance, are iconic names in media. The New York Times is the newspaper of record, while Simon & Schuster is the publisher of Steve Jobs, and counts Bob Woodward, Jackie Collins, and Jimmy Carter as authors. Warner Bros. film studios produced a little thing called the Batman franchise, while Time Inc. did that whole The Gunfighters* series (and a few other things here and there).

Yet their combined sales added up to some $8.2 billion in 2012 (Apple's fiscal 2012, which ended in September), $300 million less than iTunes.

So the next time someone says, "iPhone-maker Apple," feel free to correct them and say, "No, I meant the media giant."

* This reference was brought to you by John Wesley Hardin, who was so mean, he once shot a man just for snoring."

Image made with help from Shutterstock.


Paul Goodwin

I’m glad they’re doing we’ll with the store, but they are slowly eroding the iTunes application into a lesser capable music database tool. iTunes 11 can’t do multiple windows, can’t conver files to the lossless format except when importing. You can no longer sew files together with gapless editing, it won’t find duplicate files (been that way for a couple of releases I think). It was invented to be a world class music database tool, but slowly it’s losing functionality for people wanting to do real music management with it. Sad trend for such a great tool. IOSification of an outstanding Mac app. They seem to have a team of designers that don’t know what a music database tool should be, and are focused on store interfaces and simplification. Oh yeah, they dumbed the mini player down so bad it’s pathetic.

I urge everyone to go to Apple’s site and give them feedback.


I’ve been calling them an entertainment company for years, so media giant works for me.

Paul Goodwin

It boggles my mind to think of them being as big as they really are. Especially after living through the almost out of business years when Jobs was gone. When I bought an iPod in 2002 (before iTunes), I sure didn’t envision them doing all of this.

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