Apple iTunes: A Global Media Giant

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.