Microsoft on Friday said users shouldn’t expect a version of Apple’s iTunes that’s been specialized for Windows 8’s new Metro interface “anytime soon.” Though if you’ve been paying attention to the battle between the two companies, it should come as no surprise that Apple’s dragging its feet.
iTunes is an immensely popular piece of software on the PC, and has been since Apple ported it over from the Mac in 2003. There were always two key reasons for that: one was selling content from the iTunes Store, and the other was providing a way for people to set up and sync the iPod, then later the iPhone and iPad.
But how people are using iTunes and acquiring content is changing, and it’s changing fast. Users are increasingly getting content from iTunes on iOS devices. Last September, Apple said two-thirds of iTunes downloads were coming directly from iOS devices, instead of computers (both Macs and PCs) — a staggering statistic given that built-in stores for these devices hadn’t even existed five years prior.
Right now, Windows 8 users can still access the store and make purchases, but it’s complicated. For one, Apple has not developed a version of iTunes for Windows 8 RT, Microsoft’s version of Windows for ARM processors that runs on devices like the Surface RT. And when it is running on Windows 8 Pro devices that can load it, it’s running in desktop mode — which can still be used with a finger, but is not optimized for it — hence a desire for a specialized version.
An Apple spokesman declined to provide information on the company’s future software plans.
So why would Apple create something that would arguably give a rival platform more appeal? One good reason is why Apple made iTunes for Windows in the first place: money. Apple sells billions in digital content through iTunes each year. In this last quarter alone, the iTunes Store accounted for $2.4 billion of the $4.1 billion Apple’s iTunes and software services brought in. That number is growing too, up 30 percent this past quarter from the same period a year ago.