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Friends again: Apple iTunes app comes to 2019 Samsung TVs

It looks as though Apple and Samsung are finally friends again. In the most surprising news of CES 2019, Samsung revealed that its 2019 TV line-up will come with a new app: iTunes.

Letting users watch their library of TV shows and movies, plus buy new content, it will be the first time that iTunes will be available outside of Apple hardware, with the company previously relying on its Apple TV for the big-picture viewing experience.

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Alongside iTunes, Samsung TVs will also get Airplay 2 support, so that video and audio can be streamed from other Apple devices.

“We look forward to bringing the iTunes and AirPlay 2 experience to even more customers around the world through Samsung Smart TVs, so iPhone, iPad and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favourite content on the biggest screen in their home,” said Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple.

It’s an interesting move from Apple, which has been notorious for locking down its services so that they run on its hardware only. Choosing Samsung as its launch partner for the iTunes TV app is even more interesting, with the companies having a long and interesting legal history (Samsung recently agreed to pay up for copying the iPhone).

Yet, the landscape has changed for services, and Netflix has flourished largely due to its ubiquitous distribution, appearing on everything from smart TVs to games consoles.

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To compete, Apple has to expand the reach of its services and Samsung is the number one in TVs, making it the ideal choice. In truth, the move to get iTunes on different platforms wasn’t that unexpected. With the launch of Apple Music, Apple also launched on Android, and soon became available on Sonos. More recently, Apple Music has launched for Amazon Echo users, too.

Currently, Samsung plans to have iTunes on its 2019 platform only, although I’m told that the company will evaluate and decide later whether to introduce the app to its 2018 line-up. There’s no word from Apple as to where iTunes may appear next.