There was a time in my Apple life that the most hated Apple application on my Mac was… insert drum roll here… the Finder. You thought it would be iTunes, right? Don’t worry. iTunes is high on my list of Mac applications that need to be remodeled. And Apple fixed the Finder anyway.
Rumors come and go but iTunes lives forever. Or, maybe not. iTunes, of course, is not really a single entity unless your town’s largest shopping mall is a single store. iTunes is a shopping mall with free music (yours) and the world’s most cumbersome interface. Is iTunes ready to be sold for scrap? Or, remodeled? And what about music downloads?
Begin The Ending
I remember the iTunes of my youth (rightfully referred to as any time in my past beyond this morning). Remember SoundJam on the Mac? I do. Love it. Apple bought SoundJam, renamed it to iTunes, went all Rip. Mix. Burn. on the music industry and the Napster fad (it was a fad; where is Napster today?), and a year or so later we had a reason to buy music instead of stealing music.
The iPod came along, then iTunes Music Store, and then a steady expansion of sorts where a single Mac app did almost everything with any kind of media. Music, TV shows, movies, internet radio. For a few years iTunes was where we could buy apps for iPhone and iPad. How nuts was that? Through the years iTunes feature list grew, too. From playlist to purchases, from library sharing to album cover artwork, from podcasts to iBooks books.
iTunes was Apple’s single location for much of what became the fast growing Services revenue stream. It’s difficult to fix something that is bringing in tens of billions in revenue and hefty profits even if the name no longer fits and everything it does is messy.
iTunes lives but its reason for living is dying.
I use Apple Music. I bought a few thousand songs and albums from iTunes through the years, but all that music is available again via downloads and streaming from Apple Music. Apple TV is a better place to buy and rent TV shows and movies, and there are many Podcast apps better than Apple’s own.
Why do we need iTunes?
Well, need might be the wrong word. Tolerate fits, but as it stands, iTunes still provides functionality not available everywhere else, so maybe the platform is dying, but even marketing can have a healthcare renaissance so iTunes isn’t ready for life support. Yet.
Yet? Apple can surprise people when it comes time to abandon older, outmoded technology that has lived beyond basic usefulness. iTunes is almost there. Apple killed those stupid serial and parallel ports with iMac and USB. Apple killed the 30-pin iPod and iPhone connector in favor of Lightning. Apple killed Flash. Apple killed the analog headphone jack. HomePod does not have an analog audio input connector.
See? Apple isn’t afraid to kill what needs to be killed and iTunes is almost there; perhaps on a good life support machine, but ready to be carried off by angels to that place in the sky where old technology goes (I have no idea where that is, but I own a chunk of the products that made it there).
Apple Pippin went to straight to Hell, though.
There was a time when I thought Hell created the Finder. Today’s iTunes interface and functionality list was created by several committees, so we know for sure the lifespan is coming to an end. iTunes played a part– along with iPod– in saving Apple from the dustbin of technology gadget history. Now it’s time for exit, stage left. iTunes rose. iTunes lived. iTunes is ready to become another footnote in Apple’s glorious history.
And about time, too.