Apple's Beats Music Deal Seen as Key to Bolstering Declining iTunes Revenue Momentum

Apple reportedly is close to inking a deal with Beats Electronics for $3 billion, an acquisition that Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty believes is important if Apple wants to further monetize its 800 million iTunes user base and boost revenue in its increasingly important online services division.

Apple's online services segment, which includes iTunes, is often overlooked because it contributes so little to the company's overall revenue. But as Huberty points out in a recent message to investors, online services shouldn't be so casually tossed aside as the segment "is an underappreciated growth and margin lever for Apple." It may be small, but online services revenue is expected to grow and margins are predicted to increase in 2014, driven primarily by rising App Store revenue.

online_services_itunes_apps
Online services hold promise, but Apple needs to address iTunes, which is losing ground to rival music services. While App Store revenue is increasing, Huberty notes that iTunes revenue is falling as users turn to streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify to meet their music needs. This decline "raises concerns about Apple's ability to monetize the new base of emerging market customers," writes Huberty. According to Huberty's calculations, each iTunes account spent an average of $3.29 in the first quarter of this year, down 24% year-over-year.

declining-itunes
Huberty believes Apple could reverse this trend and improve monetization with the introduction of a subscription music service. One of the quickest ways to launch a subscription music service under the iTunes umbrella would be to acquire an existing service, something Apple appears to be doing with Beats Electronics and its Beats Music service.

Press reports, including the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, suggest Apple is considering the purchase of Beats Electronics, which would give Apple an accessories business focused on headphones and a music streaming service. Apple has not commented and we have no knowledge of any pending deals. However, a subscription music service -- whether organically built or acquired -- is a logical extension of iTunes.

Spotify, which is generally viewed as the leader in streaming music, has 10M paying subscribers or about 25 % of its over 40M active user base (MAU). If Apple charges $10 per month, same as Spotify, every 1% penetration of Apple's 800M user base, equates to $960M revenue annually, adding 8 pts of growth to online services and half a point to total company growth.

Apple's acquisition of Beats would bring not only a streaming music service, but also veteran music producer Jimmy Iovine and musician Dr. Dre to Apple. The pair are considered to be the "big prizes" of the acquisition and could help Apple negotiate favorable music deals for a streaming music service.

Looking beyond Beats, Huberty argues that Apple also could bolster its online services with the introduction of a mobile payments option, an area of opportunity recently acknowledged by CEO Tim Cook. The launch of the rumored iWatch also may contribute to Apple's online services as customers bolster App Store revenue by purchasing apps compatible with the new device.

Top Rated Comments

Benjamins Avatar
130 months ago
Why buy music from iTunes when I can stream whatever I want for a small monthly fee with Spotify?

How many songs do you buy a year. for 9.99 a month, to me it's cheaper to just buy what I want.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Steve121178 Avatar
130 months ago
Why buy music from iTunes when I can stream whatever I want for a small monthly fee with Spotify?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
130 months ago
Isn't the issue that Apple is late to streaming music and are now having to spend $3B to catch up?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
musika Avatar
130 months ago
As a customer, I say "yay unlimited music!", but as a professional musician with music on iTunes and Spotify, I say "well, there goes my chance at paying rent with this stuff".
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jabingla2810 Avatar
130 months ago
How many songs do you buy a year. for 9.99 a month, to me it's cheaper to just buy what I want.

Songs?

I used to buy a couple albums a month.

With Spotify, not only do I get those albums for less a month, I also get to listen to anything else too.

If my friend recommends a band? I've got all their music.
If I hear a song I like on the radio? I've got all their music too.

The benefits of streaming services go far beyond any monetary savings.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AbSoluTc Avatar
130 months ago
Why buy music from iTunes when I can stream whatever I want for a small monthly fee with Spotify?

Exactly this. I have Spotify and can stream and have offline tracks. Why buy music I listen to only for a few months over and over and over again when I can can pay a small price for EVERYTHING I could ever want?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Apps Messages

iMessage Down for Some Users [Update: Service Restored]

Thursday May 16, 2024 3:00 pm PDT by
The iMessage service that Apple users to send messages to one another appears to be down for some users, and messages are failing to go out or are taking an extra long time to send. There are numerous reports about the issue on social networks and a spike of outage reports on Down Detector, but Apple's System Status page is not yet reporting an outage. Update: Apple's status page says...
iOS 17

Troubling iOS 17.5 Bug Reportedly Resurfacing Old Deleted Photos

Wednesday May 15, 2024 5:29 am PDT by
There are concerning reports on Reddit that Apple's latest iOS 17.5 update has introduced a bug that causes old photos that were deleted – in some cases years ago – to reappear in users' photo libraries. After updating their iPhone, one user said they were shocked to find old NSFW photos that they deleted in 2021 suddenly showing up in photos marked as recently uploaded to iCloud. Other...
iphone 15 pro max vs iphone 16 pro max

iPhone 16 Pro Max Looks This Much Bigger Beside iPhone 15 Pro Max

Thursday May 16, 2024 4:51 am PDT by
This year's upcoming iPhone 16 Pro Max is expected to get a boost in overall size from 6.7-inches to 6.9-inches, and a new image gives us a good idea of how the current iPhone 15 Pro Max compares to what could be Apple's largest ever iPhone. The image above, posted on X by ZONEofTECH, shows a dummy model representing the ‌iPhone 16 Pro‌ Max alongside an actual iPhone 15 Pro Max. Dummy...
iOS 17

iOS 17.5 Bug May Also Resurface Deleted Photos on Wiped, Sold Devices

Friday May 17, 2024 12:24 pm PDT by
A bug in iOS 17.5 is apparently causing photos that have been deleted to reappear, and the issue seems to impact even iPhones and iPads that have been erased and sold off to other people. A Reddit user wiped an iPad following Apple's guidelines in September of 2023 before selling it off to a friend. That friend updated the iPad to iPadOS 17.5 this week, and began seeing the Reddit user's old ...
oled m4 ipad pro grainy display reports

OLED iPad Pro Users Report 'Grainy' Displays, But It May Not Be a Defect

Friday May 17, 2024 5:57 am PDT by
Some new M4 iPad Pro models are exhibiting a visible static grain pattern across the OLED display, according to several user reports on Reddit (1, 2, 3) and the MacRumors Forums. Image credit: MacRumors user bk215 Users who see the grain generally report that it is most noticeable in dark environments with the display set at a low to medium brightness while viewing content with gray or muted...
Delta Hands On Feature

iPhone Emulators on the App Store: Game Boy, N64, PS1, PSP, and More

Thursday May 16, 2024 12:45 pm PDT by
In April, Apple updated its guidelines to allow retro game emulators on the App Store, and several popular emulators have already been released. The emulators released so far allow iPhone users to play games released for older consoles from Nintendo, Sony, SEGA, Atari, and others. A list of some popular emulators available on the App Store so far follows. Released Delta Delta is...