After 10 billion songs, what's iTunes' encore?

Apple's digital-download service marked a milestone, but iTunes faces new challenges, and it must evolve to stay competitive

Apple's iTunes Store reached a major milestone this week when it delivered its 10 billionth song, an event that highlights the great success of Cupertino's digital-download service.

Techworld: How to get free iTunes music

But as successful as the iTunes Store has been in its nearly seven years of existence, a new series of challenges will require it to evolve to stay competitive. These include a growing number of online movie-streaming competitors, a possible migration by consumers to Web-based music services, and a new crop of hardware devices (e.g., the iPad and similar tablets) that expand the market for digital content. Combine these factors with broadband speeds that should rise significantly in the coming years, and there's a good chance that iTunes circa 2020 may be very different from today's service.

What changes are in store for iTunes? A few near-term possibilities:

Web-based iTunes: When Apple bought online music service Lala last year, industry watchers assumed Cupertino would integrate Lala with a Web-based version of iTunes. It remains to be seen what plans Apple has in store for its new purchase, but a cloud-based service that stores customers' music on Web servers rather than on a limited number of hardware devices makes sense, particularly for users with multiple, Web-connected portable devices.

Subscription services: The era of the 99-cent (or thereabouts) song download may not be over, but are its days numbered? Music-streaming services such as Pandora and Rhapsody are popular among iPhone and iPod touch users, and certainly a streaming option would be welcome by iTunes fans. There's also talk of an iTunes TV subscription service for about $30 per month.

Cheaper TV shows and movies: According recent rumors, Apple may cut the cost of iTunes TV show downloads to $1, a move that could coincide with the iPad's release in April. Apple currently charges $1.99 for standard-definition TV shows, and $2.99 for high-def. As with the alleged iTunes TV subscription service, it's unclear whether Hollywood studios would agree to these aggressively priced proposals.

AppleTV: This nifty little media player for the living room hasn't gotten much (if any) marketing love from the folks in Cupertino. Perhaps Apple isn't quite sure how to market the box, which hooks tightly into the iTunes Store and downloads movies, TV shows, music, and more. Now may be a good time to trumpet AppleTV's virtues, however. A number of well-funded competitors, including Netflix, Amazon, and Wal-Mart, the latter of which just announced plans to buy video-streaming service VUDU, are making a play for the online movie business.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags iTunes

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?