Apple’s market share of digitally renting and selling digital movies through iTunes — as high as 50 percent as recently as 2012 — has fallen to between 20 and 35 percent, The Wall Street Journal reports. While third-party tracking is basically nonexistent in the digital movie business, various studios have reported a serious decline in Apple’s dominance in the industry. An Apple rep didn’t dispute the estimates, but pointed out that iTunes rentals and purchases have hit their highest level in more than a decade over the past year. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that Apple’s movie rentals and sales rose 12 percent last year in the US, for a total of $5.3 billion in sales, but that growth is on account of a general shift to renting and buying movies online, not an indicator that Apple is outperforming the competition.
Studio executives said Amazon’s service has recently risen to around 20 percent, and Comcast’s service offered to its cable subscribers gobbles up another estimated 15 percent. The entire rental market is also shrinking — declining by 4 percent last year due to services like Amazon Prime, Netflix and others offering streaming movies as part of a larger entertainment package — but sales are still up 21 percent over the previous year. Apple is hiring new talent to help with its original video content, but in the meantime the company is making the best of its predicament by selling its subscriptions for HBO and Netflix for a 15 percent cut and adding a renewed focus to discovering independent films that will differentiate its offerings from other services.