Report: Apple ponders iTunes app for Android, a new streaming music service

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is considering creating an iTunes app for smartphones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android software, according to a Billboard report. Such a move would break with Apple's strategy of keeping iTunes only for its mobile devices running its iOS software.

The report, which cited unnamed sources, also said that Apple is pondering a new on-demand streaming music service to compete with Spotify and Beats Music amid declining sales from the iTunes store.

Apple declined to comment, according to the report.

The report, citing unnamed music and recording industry executives, said they think Android's explosive growth is having an impact on iTunes sales. The Google Play application store offers several iTunes apps, but they are all from third-party developers, while the Apple App Store has official Google apps for Google Play Music, Google Books and Google Play Movies & TV.

The report noted that iTunes U.S. digital album sales are down 13 percent for the week ended March 9, and digital track sales slumped 11 percent from last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Meanwhile, revenues from streaming services have grown, and a recent report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) showed that streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube generated $1.4 billion in subscription, advertising and licensing revenues in the U.S. in 2013, up 39 percent from 2012, while downloads revenues were down 3.2 percent to $2.9 billion.

An iTunes app for Android would be akin to Apple's decision to make a desktop iTunes app for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows operating system, which launched in 2003 and greatly expanded the reach and popularity of iTunes.

In September 2013 Apple launched its own streaming service via iTunes Radio. However, the free, ad-supported service, which is similar in many ways to Pandora, gives users limited control over the songs they can hear. As The Verge notes, users can remove the ads if they pay for Apple's iTunes Match service, which costs $25 per year, but they still have to buy individual songs for full price through iTunes.

Apple is reportedly looking at the possibility of spinning out the service from iTunes as a standalone app. The Billboard report cited unnamed label executives who said the service needs more work and has not had much of an impact on Pandora.

For more:
- see this Billboard article
- see this The Verge article

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