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Summary:

Apple’s iTunes Match has been accused of opening the door for piracy, but that’s probably not something Apple’s concerned about. Match will still make Apple money, and its other digital content marketplace, the App Store, may quickly become the primary breadwinner anyway.

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Source: Asymco

When Apple announced iTunes Match, a scan-and-match service for your entire music library, not just for songs bought through iTunes itself, it seemed to many that it could open the door to even more piracy of digital music, which is already a rampant problem. At the time, I suggested Apple might be anticipating the future of digital music distribution and getting out ahead of the competition early. Apple might also be less worried about the prospect of digital music piracy now that App Store revenue looks poised to overtake money made from iTunes music sales in just a few short years.

Asymco (via Silicon Alley Insider) estimates that based on current trajectories, income based on app sales will pass income based on iTunes music sales in just three years. iTunes music only generates about twice the income of App Store sales, owing to a much higher amount of retained revenue on app sales. Users buy about 67 songs per iTunes account on average, but also about 62 iOS apps, so revenue from apps is growing at a higher rate than is revenue from iTunes music sales.

iOS is a platform designed with the future in mind, and since it’s only three years old, we’ve probably only just seen the beginning of its success so far. Digital music, by contrast, is being attacked from all sides by alternative content delivery methods, including subscription services, and even free, socially sourced options like newcomer turntable.fm. Amazon and Google are offering cloud streaming services, and iTunes Match is a way to stay one step ahead of the competition. But as users increasingly turn to services like Spotify, and those services begin to play nice with record labels, the pay-per-track and download is beginning to show its age.

Apple knows apps are key to the future of its content revenue picture, and Asymco’s analysis serves to make that clear. Apple is still king when it comes to digital music, but to stay there in the long term, it has to shake up the way it does business. With the App Store, Apple still has the smartest business model around, and the one that’s most appealing to developers and consumers alike.

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Paul Sapiano under CC BY 2.0.

  1. It does’nt surprise me that Facebook wants to get into the game as well. I’m just surprised other companies have’nt seen the writing on the wall and jumped at it.

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  2. so does iTunes Match only match your ripped songs for cloud streaming, or does it replace the ripped song with apples aac copy for your hard copy on your computer as well as a cloud streaming copy?

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    1. This is a very good question I’ve been wondering about as well. The $24.99 was described as a subscription so does this mean that if you stop the subscription you lose access to those songs?

      They did mention that the songs matched are DRM free so it seems to me you get a permanent copy. I wonder if those songs will work with iCloud even after terminating the subscription service. If so, it may make more sence to describe iTunes match as a fee for converting ripped songs to higher quality and giving you access to them through iCloud.

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    2. I should also add that iCloud an iTunes Match are not streaming services. It’s a synchronization service that gives you access to download your purchased songs to any of your devices rather than having to use the computer to sync past purchases.

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      1. you nailed exactly what i was thinking. also, i think if apple/the record labels allow it, you should technically be capable if streaming your music from icloud. and i believe theyre heading that way. it makes more sense to stream your music from your slice of icloud, similar to pandora, lala, etc, than to have to redownload it to your idevice. i hope we get answers soon.

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  3. Does the statistic that on average users buy 62 apps Include the “purchase” of free apps from the app store? Nevertheless, if apps are currently making half the revenue of music, it’s a very good sign for the app store. Personally I love the native app model as opposed to web apps.

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