Running the country’s biggest music retailer, they helped steady Apple’s stock
Apple’s Eddy Cue and Robert Kondrk have served as officers of a ship that navigated rough waters in 2013 as investors wavered in their faith in CEO Tim Cook, driving the company’s stock down a stomach-churning 29.5% between its Jan. 2 opening price of $553.82 to a low of $390.53 on April 19.
But thanks in part to the continued double-digit growth in the revenue of iTunes, Apple ended the year in solid shape—its stock up a hair at 1.3% to close at $561.02 on Dec. 31. The iTunes Store generated $9.3 billion in net sales during its 2013 fiscal year that ended Sept. 28, up 24% from $7.5 billion in 2012.
Both Cue and his lieutenant Kondrk have steered a steady course for iTunes’ business amid the uncertainty that followed the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Cue, who helped set up Apple’s online store in 1998 and retailer iTunes in 2003, continues to oversee the latter in his current role heading up the company’s Internet software and services, including iAd, iCloud and Siri. Since Cue’s promotion under Cook, Kondrk ended up with much of the day-to-day duties of running iTunes.
Throughout the year, Apple maintained its iron grip as the country’s largest music retailer. The best display of its power is its exclusive arrangement to sell Beyoncé’s self-titled hit album late last year. Even though Beyoncé was available exclusvively on iTunes its first week—at a premium price of $15.99, no less —it still sold 850,000 copies, according to sources, outpacing most other major releases that relied on multiple retailers.
But as sales of digital music downloads show signs of maturing and even declining, Apple has begun to look elsewhere to leverage its stake in music. In June, the company launched iTunes Radio, an advertising-based streaming service. The company said it garnered 11 million listeners who tried out the service in its first five days. The company hasn’t since updated its figure. Whatever the current number, it’s bound to grow as Apple plans to expand iTunes Radio’s distribution to additional countries this year.