Following up on earlier rumours citing internal Apple discussions about the possibility of eliminating music downloads from iTunes — officially denied by the company — Digital Music News says the sources familiar with the plans insist: you can say goodbye to music ownership in just a few years. iTunes downloads may be ultimately phased out.
The sources point to the fact that music streaming seems to be increasing, as music downloads decline. Actually, paid music downloads appear to be dropping steeply this year, according to preliminary stats revealed to DMN. So, if Apple moves in this direction, these statistics will reinforce their choice.
To phase out music downloads, Apple will need to engineer iTunes differently, to simplify the application towards streaming and radio. A revamped iTunes will be publicly unveiled next week, possibly during the WWDC media event scheduled for June 13.
With the new iTunes, DMN says Apple is hoping to address complaints of “bloatware” and complicated interface, so we can expect a simplified application. At this point, Apple won’t phase out music downloads.
But one source noted that Apple is “definitely not getting rid of [music] downloads” at the WWDC event next week, or any time in the short-term future, while another mentioned that possibility that top executives may “double down” their expressed commitment to the format during WWDC presentations to cool rumors.
One possible reason for that choice is that cancelling downloads could create serious licencing problems with major and independent labels and marquee artists. Just five more days to go until Apple kicks off its highly anticipated WWDC media event.