An Apple executive has officially announced that all iTunes MP3 music downloads will be terminated by early 2019. Apple Music executive and Beats creator Jim Iovine announced today that paid downloads on the iTunes platform will be phased out in an attempt to shift users toward Apple Music's online streaming.
The implications for a move from iTunes like this are pretty significant. Firstly, it confirms what we have known for a while now: that online streaming is far outstripping paid offline downloads in a way that is changing the business models of music giants like Apple and even Amazon Prime.
iTunes is phasing out pretty much all of its iPod products and the shift to end offline downloads is a telling one: the iTunes user's downloaded library will be translated onto their Apple Music account so they can listen to it along with online streaming.
Without offline downloads, the existence of iTunes as a platform is essentially pointless, and it creates a vacuum for other companies to fill and monopolize on paid downloads the way iTunes has been doing for years.
Amazon is a good contender: their Prime-bundled streaming service is essentially free, and paid downloads only come with that. They sell literally everything else, why not MP3 downloads, too?
And you're probably wondering about Spotify's role in all of this, because lord knows that anyone who listens to a lot of music has a Spotify account. Actually, something like 68 million people have a Spotify account, which is twice as many as Apple Music users and probably more than twice that of Amazon music listeners.
We have to remember, too, that vinyls and CDs are generally sold with an MP3 download - who will be taking care of that? Chances are that lots of people are thinking the same thing we are.