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Is Steve Jobs Rolling In His Grave or Did He Dig One for Apple's iTunes?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In one corner of the nutshell, Tim Cook's doing everything right at Apple (AAPL - Get Report). And I really believe iPhone 6, the forthcoming Android killer, will be a hit that Apple went about developing and introducing the right way.

However, in that corner of the nutshell where I'm often tempted to wade, I gotta wonder not only about Cook as CEO, but about what's happening at Apple in general. The key question though -- do these concerns matter? Or are they merely nitpicks over issues that will not impact Apple's core business of selling tens of millions of units of premium hardware?

In any event ...

Case in point -- a well-done (as usual) article by Ed Christman and Alex Pham over at Billboard: Underwhelming Start to iTunes Radio Lights Fire Under Apple.

I use bold type because the entire headline as well as the context Christman and Pham support it with blows my mind. I can't believe what we're seeing from Apple with respect to digital music downloads and streaming radio. When this story hit Wednesday I went on a non-stop Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo-like rant.

First, nobody should be surprised by an Underwhelming start to iTunes Radio ... If the people at Apple are surprised by this, they set expectations too high. That's what most of the financial and tech media did. As iTunes Radio rolled out, however, I made it clear that it would not be a Pandora (P) killer.

See, for example, Pandora has nothing to fear from Apple's iTunes Radio (June 11, 2013 via Canada's The Globe and Mail) and Why Pandora Blows Apple's iTunes Radio Away (October 4, 2013 via TheStreet).

iTunes Radio exists -- or should exist -- as merely another part of the software and services ecosystem that drives sales of Apple mobile devices. While it's understandable why Apple would view the Pandora knock-off as a way to drive digital music downloads in the old-fashioned iTunes Store, that's an idea born to lose and destined to fail.

But this should come as no surprise either ...

On June 5, 2013, I published Is Apple Screwing the Music Industry?. Then, on June 28, 2013, Apple Should Be Ashamed of Itself hit.

You should read both articles, but the theses, particularly at the second link, state that Apple scored a sweet deal from record labels who signed on with iTunes Radio by holding out the (obviously false and horribly misleading) hope that the streaming radio service would reignite digital music downloads. Apple scored thousands of royalty-free plays in exchange for ... absolutely nothing.

It was painfully obvious then, as it is now, that downloads were dying and will soon be dead. They have gone the way of the CD.

Consider reviewing June 7, 2013's Pandora: The Hand That Feeds the Ungrateful Music Industry and, from August 1, 2013, Downloads Die, Apple Lives, Music Industry Suffers. Today, the trend continues with download sales already down 13.3% in 2014, as per Digital Music News.

Now we're getting closer to understanding why it might be Steve Jobs, not Tim Cook who's responsible for this lunacy. 

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