[Photo by: Apple]

It looks like Apple has finally put an end date on iTunes Store music downloads. While the move has been rumored for years, sources are now saying a reported phase-out of iTunes downloads is expected on March 31, 2019.

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As previously reported, Apple Music exec Jimmy Iovine seemingly confirmed the coming iTunes download halt in a recent interview with the BBC. Now, Digital Music News claims Apple insiders are eyeing a March 2019 termination.

The 2019 date, according to the reported sources, is being posited as the supposed “announcement” time for the iTunes Store's downloads shut-down. Following the purported official announcement, new music downloads on the service would stop being available on a continual basis.

“The streaming services are all charging $9.99 and everyone has the same music,” Iovine said, surveying the current dominance of streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify and others over the option to purchase full album or song downloads. “Sooner or later, something's got to give.”

Whispers of an iTunes downloads shutdown seeming stretch all the way back to 2016, although Apple apparently denied the reports at that time. By last December, however, a plan was apparently in place at the company to “completely terminate iTunes music download sales by early 2019.”

Reportedly, the shutdown would put the nix on any new downloads—but users' previously purchased iTunes music would still be available to them. (So, yes, all those purchased AAC files from the early 2000s, as well as imported MP3s into iTunes, should all still work for the foreseeable future.)

Iovine apparently thinks the phase out of iTunes Store music downloads is inevitable, saying Apple will eventually stop offering downloads “when people stop buying. It's very simple.” The Apple Music head, however, seemed to deny the stated reports of a concrete timetable for the shutdown plan.

It's amazing to think that the iTunes Store first launched way back in April 2003, isn't it? That was nearly 15 years ago—and iTunes has gone on to sell over 35 billion songs worldwide. Well, buy your iTunes downloads now, because they apparently won't be around for much longer.

Do you still buy music downloads on Apple's iTunes Store? Are you comfortable living an all-streaming existence for your digital music needs? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think about Apple's reported plan to eventually end the sale of iTunes music downloads.

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