Apple’s iTunes Store has been a long-time feature for the company’s music application since its launch in 2003. But amid more competition and changing viewer habits, the store’s movie sales have run into difficulties, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As the Journal notes, the iTunes Store’s market share for movie purchases and rentals has dropped to around 20 percent to 35 percent. Notably, this is a far cry from its estimated market share of around 50 percent in 2012.
At the same time, this decline doesn’t mean that Apple will step away from the market any time soon. According to Apple, the company has also focused on streaming options like HBO Go for Apple users. At the same time, Apple has found that rentals and purchases saw an increase over the past year. But as 9To5Mac notes, this growth was also caused by the larger upswing seen by the entire rentals market and isn’t strictly tied to Apple’s own performance.
The biggest reason for Apple’s decline in market share comes from competition via Amazon and Comcast. At the moment, Amazon holds a rentals market share of around 20 percent, while Comcast sits at around 15 percent. For Amazon, its share comes largely from Amazon Prime’s video offerings, along with set top devices like the Fire TV stick. On Comcast’s end, users have recently been able to purchase or rent movies directly from its cable boxes.
Other larger viewing trends have had similar effects on iTunes’ market share. Popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime feature extensive back catalogs of movies and TV shows from networks and cable channels. While third-party shows or movies aren’t guaranteed to be on these services forever — they’re typically licensed to streaming services for a limited time — the prospect of not having to pay per season or a la carte for programming has been a major hurdle for stores to clear.
The trend mirrors the larger struggle the iTunes Store has faced for its music sales. As streaming music services like Apple Music and Spotify have increased in popularity over the past few years, purchases have seen a general decline for the same reasons.
As for Apple, the company has focused on other ways to incentivize movie rentals and purchases for viewers. In December, Apple was reportedly in talks with studios including Warner Bros and Universal Pictures to sell movies during their theatrical run. The prospect of getting into same-day movie sales has long been a goal for tech companies and has been considered a way to distinguish their offerings from competitors.