Apple Reportedly Discusses iTunes Subscriptions With Record Execs Hoping To Increase Sales

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Apple is reportedly considering expanding its music offerings in the face of declining iTunes sales, including the option of offering a subscription service. According to Billboard, the more interesting options being discussed include a Spotify/Beats Music-style paid subscription service for on-demand listening, and perhaps even a version of the iTunes store for Android devices.

Digital sales have decreased recently, with 2013 sales down 2.1% worldwide compared to 2012, while streaming music revenue was up 51% worldwide over the previous year. A significant amount of download purchases happen (or in this case, don't happen), in the iTunes store, so it makes sense that Apple is looking for ways to keep sales from eroding further.

Since these talks are qualified as "exploratory", there's no telling if any of this will come to be or if it's just a sampling of the ideas being kicked around between management teams.

Rumors of Apple starting a subscription service for anything and everything have gone round for years, and the cold water dousing those rumor flames was always Steve Jobs' claim that music fans won't pay for those subscriptions. Now that it's Tim Cook's ship to steer, there is possibly more to this story, including an Android app for the iTunes store. This would be music to the ears of industry executives who are reportedly convinced the growth of the Android platform is part of what slowed iTunes downloads.

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Yeah, this is possible. Initial reports of "iTunes Radio" were describing an on-demand service like Spotify, not the Pandora-ish service that was actually released.

But an Android version of the iTunes store? When it first launched, iTunes was the thing Apple used to sell more iPods. It seems pretty unlikely that someone with a shiny new Android device is going to run out and buy Apple hardware just because of iTunes. Of course they weren't making billions of dollars on iPods back then, there were no iOS devices to speak of, and no streaming/store competition at all, so perhaps this isn't as farfetched as I imagine.

However, the possiblilty of breaking off the music store into a separate section gives me (probably unfounded) hope that Apple realizes they've bolted too much on to iTunes over the years, and perhaps users are better served by managing iOS devices in an app separate from the one they use to buy Minor Threat's discography.

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