Apple could terminate iTunes music downloads within two years [updated]

new itunes store

Apple is preparing to completely terminate music downloads in the iTunes Store, reports Digital Music News. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the outlet says an aggressive, two-year timetable to switch completely to streaming music is gaining traction within the company.

Hedging on its claim, the site also says other shutdown plans are being considered, including one that would see the iPhone-maker offer music downloads for another 3-4 years. Regardless, executives have agreed that keeping downloads running forever is no longer on the table.

Part of the debate is that paid music downloads still account for hundreds of millions of dollars to Apple, worldwide.  According to an estimate revealed by music industry analyst Mark Mulligan at Canadian Music Week in Toronto, iTunes music downloads will still be worth an estimated $600 million in 2019, though that is down from peak revenues from $3.9 billion in 2012.

Admittedly, it’d be nice to see Apple phase out music downloads. It’s pretty clear that streaming is the way of the future, and it would make iTunes and Music apps less confusing. But it’s hard to imagine Apple, who practically created digital music downloads, getting rid of them by 2018.

First there’s the money. As aforementioned, this is still expected to be a $600 million business in 2019. Even for a company as big as Apple, that’s a lot to just toss out the window. Then you have to think about other issues like offline playback and what users will do with purchased music.

What do you think? Could Apple really get rid of music downloads within two years?

Source: Digital Music News

Update: An Apple representative has issued a statement to Recode, denying the above report.

“Not true,” says Apple rep Tom Neumayr. Neumayr wouldn’t expand on that comment, except to make it clear that he was responding to both timelines proposed in today’s story from Digital Music News.