Apple may bring iTunes to Android, and it makes sense

Apple broke the monopoly of record labels, which forced users to buy entire album even if a user wanted just one song. It made music affordable, which brought down ‘piracy’. Apple actually shook the entire music industry with its iTunes, the way it changed the mobile industry with iPhone.

Till now, or to be precise under the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple has been busy nuking Android, let alone bringing its services to the platform. Things seem to be changing now. Apple is reportedly considering iTunes for Android.

That could be a game changer.

Online music sales is declining

While there is no doubt hardware is where Apple makes most money, iOS market is declining and so are the services that are sold through the platform. Billboard reported in January this year, “Overall for the full year 2013, digital track sales fell 5.7% from 1.34 billion units to 1.26 billion units while digital album sales fell 0.1% to 117.6 million units from the previous year’s total of 117.7 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.”

Declining sales of online music can be serious concern for Apple as the industry may start to shift towards that player which dominates the sales and that player is Google/Android. One way for Apple to increase the sales of iTunes music could be by taking the iTunes store to the next most popular platform.

There are Mac-Android users

There is another interesting chemistry going on there. Windows sales is declining thanks to an OS no one can use. More and more users are either moving to Chromebooks or Mac. So while Macs do have advantages over Windows PCs, the case of iPhone is different. iDevices just fail to compete with Android at many levels – whether it be features like multi-tasking or diverse and better hardware. So the obvious choice for power users has become a Mac PC and an Android smartphone.

By offering iTunes to Android users, Apple will turn all those millions of Mac+Android users into Apple users.

Apple is also trying to enter the on-demand music streaming market and Android will offer Apple the market that it needs to drive traffic.

Personally I am quite tired of vendor locks. The movies that I buy on Amazon can’t be played on my Android devices even if Amazon uses Android as the base of its own Kindle. Same is the case with Apple. There is no way for me to play any of the contents that I buy from iTunes on my Android devices so I just don’t buy anything from iTunes any more. There may be a lot of Mac users who are not buying stuff because of this reason.

It’s a win-win situation for Apple.

But what has changed suddenly?

Tim Cook.

Steve Jobs, despite Apple’s own history of borrowing ideas from others, couldn’t tolerate Android and was determined to destroy it. All the battles between Android players and Apple go back to Jobs era. Once Cook took control of Apple, he is being wiser than Jobs and instead of using ’rounded corners’ to beat competitors is rather focusing on refining the products.

Steve Jobs was quite clear about not porting iTunes to Android. He had once said, “We thought about whether we should do a music client for Android. We put iTunes on Windows in order to sell more iPods. But I don’t see an advantage of putting our own music app on Android, except to make Android users happy. And I don’t want to make Android users happy.”

That’s not the case anymore. Google has mastered the art of partnerships and its Play Music is quite rich. It’s not Android users who are missing anything or unhappy with the lack of iTunes, it’s Apple or Mac users who are unhappy and it is affecting sales.

Apple co-founder Steve Woznaik, who is known for being outspoken, is in favour of bringing iTunes to Android, “Let’s look at Apple. Apple’s real rise from the small market-share Macintosh company to the iProducts of today began with iTunes and the iPod. This turned out to be a 2nd huge business which roughly doubled Apple’s ‘size’. If you remember, we ported iTunes to Windows. We now addressed 100% of the world’s market with this integrated system (iPod/iTunes) and it began the era of Apple that we are now in. So why don’t we port iTunes to Android? Did something get closed up? I love Apple products and iTunes and wish it were on my Android products too.”

So what does the current Apple boss think? When asked about bringing iOS apps and services to Android, Cook said: “We have no religious issue with doing that. If we thought it made sense for us to do that, we would do that.”

As an Android user, would you use iTunes and other Apple services? Personally I am in favour of it. I am in favour of using my content on any platform or my choice. I just don’t like vendor locks.

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.