Here's Why Apple Shouldn't Bring iTunes to Android

It would be a poor business decision for Apple to bring iTunes to competing platforms such as Android.

Apr 15, 2014 at 9:15AM

The latest rumor going around is that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) plans to bring its signature iTunes software and store to Android. The credibility of this rumor is shoddy at best, but every so often something like this makes the rounds. True or not, this seems like a poor business decision and one that Apple shouldn't adopt.

Apple needs software to differentiate itself
These days, just about anybody can build a smartphone -- the hardware is largely a commodity at this point. The real "secret sauce" to Apple's wild iPhone profitability lies in both the brand loyalty it has garnered over the years and in the differentiated software ecosystem that the company includes with its phones.

Press Photo

Source: Apple.

The core of this ecosystem is, of course, iOS. However, while iOS has captured the hearts and minds of developers worldwide, just about every important third-party app that can be found on iOS can also be found in Google's Android. And since Android is free (except for the various license fees some vendors need to pay Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)) and customizable, the "ecosystem advantage" is waning, meaning that first-party apps and services are becoming increasingly important.

Apple's iTunes is a core advantage
A big part of the iPhone's "stickiness" is that plenty of folks own a fairly sizable collection of paid apps, making a move away from the iOS ecosystem a bit difficult. Apple's iTunes is very similar; just replace "apps" with "media." While some may prefer to use something like to buy MP3s that can be played with the platform-agnostic Amazon Cloud player, iTunes revenue is still quite robust (Apple's software/services/iTunes generated $4.4 billion in sales last quarter, up from $3.69 billion in the prior-year period).


Apple's iTunes Radio is another service that helps keep iOS "sticky." Source: Apple. 

By bringing iTunes to Android, consumers have one less reason to "need" to buy an iOS device. Indeed, if Apple brings the core of its software/service ecosystem to competing platforms, then how is it going to maintain such high profitability on its devices? Differentiating on hardware is nearly impossible, especially when iPhones typically don't pack the latest-and-greatest, buzzword-compliant specifications. In fact, Apple intentionally goes with the cheapest it can get away with on the hardware side and then more than makes up for it on the software side.

But iTunes is available on Windows!
One big counterargument is that when Apple brought iTunes to Windows, this was an unequivocally good thing. However, it's important to understand the pretty significant difference here. Apple wasn't using iTunes to try to sell Macs (which are becoming an increasingly negligible part of Apple's business) -- it was using iTunes to try to sell iPods and later iPhones.

Foolish bottom line
iTunes, as well as the rest of Apple's first-party software, is key to keeping its platform as "sticky" as possible. In a world where anybody can put together a fast, slick smartphone with a gorgeous screen and great battery life, it really does come down to the usability and usefulness of the device. This, first and foremost, is determined by the software and the content and the more tied to the platform customers are, the better it is long term for high-margin hardware sales. 

Did you miss Apple's epic run? 
If you thought the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were amazing, just wait until you see this. One hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. But you can invest in it right now... for just a fraction of the price of AAPL stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.

Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of, Apple, Google (C shares), and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers