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Apple to replace iTunes with apps as it faces possible antitrust investigation

Tech stocks were hit by reports of potential antitrust probes into Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon

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Apple is trying to play catch up in the market for subscription streaming services,

Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) has confirmed it will be replacing iTunes with apps including Apple Music, Apple Podcast and Apple TV.

The announcement, made at the World Developers Conference in San Jose on Monday, follows speculation that Apple was planning to get rid of the music service it launched in 2001.

READ: Apple breaks through US$1trn and reclaims its number one position

The move comes as the tech giant tries to play catch up in the market for subscription streaming services, which is dominated by Spotify and Netflix.

“Customers love iTunes and everything it can do, but if there is one thing we hear over and over it’s ‘Can iTunes do even more?’” said Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, at the conference.  

iTunes will still be on Windows platforms but will no longer be on Mac desktops once the new operating system Catalina becomes available to download later this year.

Mac users will need to go to the Music app to access their library of iTunes songs, the TV app to find their iTunes shows and moves and the Podcasts app for their audio stories.

iTunes users will still be able to access the iTunes Store app on their devices.

New privacy measures 

Apple also announced a number of new privacy measures. The measures include an option for apps that request location information to ask for it every time.

Apple will also launch a new sign-in as an alternative to logging into apps using social media accounts, allowing users to hide their email address and data. Apple will create a random email address that forwards to the real mailbox.

"Privacy is a fundamental human right," Federighi said.

Apple also said its Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps will now track and locate any Apple device, even if it is offline.

Other news included the Apple Watch becoming independent from the iPhone with its own app store.

New Watch apps will include a menstrual cycle tracker, with an optional fertility window predictor, and a noise level tool to alert wearers when they are around noise levels that can damage hearing.

Tech stocks hit by reports of potential antitrust probes 

Apple shares closed down 1% at US$173.3 in Wall Street trading on Monday after Reuters reported that the US Justice Department has jurisdiction for a potential probe of the company as part of a wider review of whether technology giants use their size to act in an anti-competitive manner.

The Justice Department’s antitrust division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) were understood to have agreed to give the Justice Department the jurisdiction to undertake potential antitrust probes of Apple and Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Google.  

The FTC was also given jurisdiction to look at fellow FAANGs, Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).

Worries about these potential antitrust probes wiped more than US$133bn from the market value of the tech giants on Monday.

The potential investigation into Apple comes after Spotify and others complained to EU antitrust regulations that the firm charges a 30% fee for content-based providers to use its in-app purchase system.

Apple has said, in defence of its fee structure, that “our users trust Apple – and that trust is critical to how we operate a fair, competitive store for developer app distribution”.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, commented: "Fangs are under severe pressure amid fears they are in the crosshairs of trust busters. The DoJ and FTC are marking targets and loading up. Whilst it’s far too early to say if any would, or could, be ripe to be broken up, there’s a real threat this will depress multiples and mean we need to reset expectations. Given the Fangs have been at the front of the market expansion in recent years, this will act as a drag on sentiment as well."

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NASDAQ:AAPL
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