Social media followers for Apple's iTunes and App Store are declining
Apple ($NASDAQ:AAPL) has many revenue streams, from the most basic profit on hardware to the more complex and growing media business that includes iTunes, Apple Music, apps, movies, music, news and more. It's pretty clear that media will be a large part of Apple's future, from aggregation to its upcoming original content studio.
iTunes, arguably Apple's first pure media product (via music sales), however, is waning when it comes to social media traction. In fact, followers for iTunes is significantly down on Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB).
In mid-2017, iTunes had 31.1 million Facebook followers. That number has made a steady decline to today's 29.8 million.
At first, that change may not appear severe: It's just a loss of 1.3 million followers over two years. But in order to lose a follower on Facebook, a user must manually click "Unlike this Page" in order to remove. That means that despite any new followers Apple has picked up on Facebook for iTunes, 1.3 million more have unliked the brand.
Such a phenomenon is rare, as it requires effort on the part of consumers to actively dislike brands or companies on the world's largest social network. In this case, the steady decline in likes is even more head scratching given that Apple's iTunes page remains active, with promotional posts for movie releases as recent as 4 minutes before this story was published.
On Twitter ($NYSE:TWTR), iTunes is moving in the right direction, with 1.31 million compared to 2017's 1.06 million around this time. Which begs the question even more: What's happening with Apple's presence on Facebook?
Matters become even more perplexing when looking at the Apple App Store Facebook page. Apple remains active on the App Store Facebook page, but starting in the winter of 2018, began losing followers.
In January 2018, the App Store Facebook page had 14.9 million followers. Today, it's down to 14.6 million. Again, this means that roughly 200,000 Facebook users actively "unliked" the App Store on Facebook.
On Twitter, the App Store is also seeing a plateau and dip after a bot correction in July 2018.
Does Apple have a social media problem? Any brand that loses followers would certainly be concerned about potential erosion for its overall brand perception. Meanwhile, Apple has had a tough year when it comes to consumer relations, whether related to iPhone pricing, iPad quality control, or — just this week — security concerns over Facetime.
It's also possible that Apple doesn't care. Both iTunes and the App Store are remnants of an Apple of bygone years before HomePod, before its upcoming streaming service, and before its now-rumored "Netflix for Games" subscription service.
Meanwhile, widespread reports of people deleting their Facebook accounts or simply reducing the amount of messaging they receive on the platform by unfollowing multiple accounts could certainly have something to do with this. As to whether that would account for a loss of 1.3 million accounts over the last two years is unknown, of course.
In other words, Apple may be perfectly happy to let these legacy social media outlets for legacy sub-brands to languish as it reinvents itself as a content provider.