Apple is preparing to stop iTunes music downloads in 2019, according to sources inside the company, including a statement by Jimmy Iovine, an executive at the tech giant who was formerly at audio brand Beats.
The decision is a direct result of significant growth in the use of Apple Music, the firm's streaming service which is currently vying for dominance against rivals like Spotify, which just floated on the New York Stock Exchange with a value of $26.5billion. In late-March, Iovine suggested a shutdown on downloads would take place once 'people stop buying', and last week news began to circulate that some members of staff predict this could happen in early 2019, or by 31st March next year.
It's important to note these dates relate to an official announcement being made about iTunes ceasing music sales, starting a wind-down process, rather than the point at which the music will actually be taken off-sale. Apple has also been quick to point out this will not affect people's ability to play downloaded music on any of the company's devices, and all tracks previously bought through iTunes, and users' current iTunes libraries, will still be fully playable. It's not clear whether there will be changes to the availability of other media, such as movies and TV shows like the forthcoming Above & Beyond documentary.