Apple could launch iTunes subscription services with a flick of a switch, a leading analyst said on Friday.

Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich made the claims, while observing that Apple’s stock value currently represents a buying opportunity for investors. He also said that the new Yahoo music download service is a challenge for Napster and Real, but not so much for Apple.

The analyst thinks Apple may flick the subscription switch if it sees any erosion in its current 70 per cent market share. Subscription services are currently battling over just 15 per cent of the online music market.

"Although we think the iPod franchise is safe for at least the next year, the driver of the stock increasingly will be Mac sales," the analyst said, predicting a 15-20 per cent growth rate for hardware revenues.