John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Does Windows 8 RT Have Enough Users for Its Own iTunes App?

new_itunesWindows tablet users hoping for a version of Apple’s iTunes media software optimized for Windows 8’s app-oriented “Metro” interface are going to have a long time to wait. Because according to Microsoft, Apple is in no rush to develop one.

To be clear, iTunes is available for Windows 8, but using it requires jumping through some hoops. For Windows 8 users, that means having to go into the desktop to run the Windows 7 version of iTunes. It’s even worse, though, for those with one of the Windows RT machines, such as Microsoft’s Surface RT. They are really out of luck as older Windows apps don’t run at all.

“You shouldn’t expect an iTunes app on Windows 8 any time soon,” Windows CFO Tami Reller told CNN. “ITunes is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It’s not for lack of trying.”

No, not for lack of trying. But, perhaps, for lack of something else: User base.

According to IDC, Microsoft sold only about 900,000 of its Surface tablets during the first quarter of the year. That’s only about 1.8 percent of the overall market. And it dwarfs the number of RT tablets shipped during the same period — just 200,000, or 0.4 percent of all tablet sales.

It’s hard to imagine Apple looking at that as an opportunity worth throwing a lot of engineering resources at.

There may well be other roadblocks as well: a reticence on Apple’s part to improve the user experience on a rival tablet and perhaps some residual sparring over Office for iOS revenue sharing issues. But audience size is the most obvious issue, and the one that would likely cause Apple to balk at developing the iTunes client that for which Microsoft is clearly angling.

Which is not to say that it won’t someday. Apple has done quite well with iTunes for the PC since debuting it in 2003. Today it’s on hundreds of millions of Windows PCs, making Apple a leading Windows developer. As Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said at our our fifth D conference, giving iTunes to Windows users is “like giving a glass of ice water to someone in Hell” (9:50 in the video below). If Apple feels the same way about Windows 8 Metro, perhaps it’s just waiting for the addressable market to increase a bit.

Apple declined comment on iTunes for Windows 8.

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