Apple is now preparing to completely terminate music download offerings on the iTunes Store, with an aggressive, two-year termination timetable actively being considered and gaining favor. According to sources to Digital Music News with close and active business relationships with Apple, discussions are now focused “not on if, but when” music downloads should be retired for good.
Sources tell the site that range of shutdown timetables are being considered; however, “keeping [iTunes music downloads] running forever isn’t really on the table anymore.” Another timeframe under consideration would ride out iTunes downloads for 3-4 years, maybe longer.
“If he were alive, Jobs would have killed it,” one source bluntly told the site
Downloads are sinking fast as users switch over to subscription based services like Apple Music and Spotify. Last year they declined by 16% in nominal terms and this year it looks like they will decline between 25% and 30%.
Apple Music is growing at a respectable rate and could reach 20 million subscribers by the end of the year. Music industry analyst Mark Mulligan believes that streaming revenues could surpass peak music download revenues by 2020.
“By 2020 [Apple’s] download business would be tracking to be 10 times smaller than streaming revenue but, crucially, streaming revenue would nearly have reached the 2012 iTunes Store download revenue peak,” Mulligan said. “This is the point at which Apple would choose to turn off the iTunes Store.”
As expected, Apple didn't respond to a request for comment.
Update: Apple says this report is "Not true" in a statement made to Recode.