End of an Era: Apple to Announce Shutdown of iTunes

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On Friday afternoon, Bloomberg News reported that Apple is soon to announce the end of its iconic iTunes digital store. Launched in 2003, iTunes took the business world by storm and started the massive movement of MP3 music sales.

Rumors of iTunes impending demise have swirled for years now, but Apple is expected to make an official announcement on Monday, at its yearly developer conference. Essentially, iTunes will be divided into three stand-alone applications for music, TV, and podcasts, according to Bloomberg News.

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Rolling Stone explains the announcement in terms of iTunes’ current position in the marketplace:

But the scrapping of iTunes’ brand symbolizes a lot, too. By portioning out its music, television and podcast offerings into three separate platforms, Apple will pointedly draw attention to itself as a multifaceted entertainment services provider, no longer as a hardware company that happens to sell entertainment through one of its many apps. That’s crucial for Apple’s future, as the company combats sluggish phone sales with aggressive growth in its services division. At WWDC this year, according to various reports, Apple is planning to buff up other apps including Books, Messages and Mail; it also announced ambitious plans for original video programming featuring the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell just a few months ago, in another bid to grow its content presence in entertainment industries.

When Apple’s Steve Jobs first announced iTunes in 2003, he told Billboard that Apple wanted to help the music industry survive the surge of illegal downloads started by Napster and other pirate sites that bled money from both artists and record labels, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The record companies are in a difficult situation because people want to buy their music online, but there’s no real way to do it, so they steal it,” Jobs said, the LA Times notes. “The users are in a bad situation because most of them don’t want to steal music online, but there’s no other way to get it that’s any good.” Jobs proposed iTunes as “a middle way, a middle path out of this.”

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Over the years, iTunes morphed, evolved, and grew rapidly, but eventually Apple’s domination was toppled by the rise of Spotify and similar popular streaming sites.

The specifics of iTunes’ reported downfall will likely come after Monday’s announcement.

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Correction: Sept. 15, 2019, 7:05 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to remove unattributed text and add fuller sourcing.

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