On the 28th of April 2013, Apple will celebrate 10 years of iTunes. Since the humble beginnings of this online music concept, iTunes has blossomed into the first successful commercial online music store with its 99cents a song deal. Its success was intrinsically linked to the then new Apple iPod. Today it remains the biggest online music store, a full 10 years later.
The Onion news took a bit of a satirical view on the 10 years of iTunes:
Apple’s iTunes software has long been a polarizing piece of software – some people love it, others use it just because it is needed for proper use of any iDevice. In its previous versions Apple has never moved away from its “folder view” on the left, with music on the right style. But in the last few years there has been a massive shift to simplified interfaces, partially thanks to iOS and Android interfaces.
If there was ever a piece of software that needed to be simplified, iTunes was it. Every few years the interface gets a subtle refresh, but iTunes 11 is a major refresh (at least from a user interface level). After some delays, iTunes 11 is here, and its a free download. So what is new, and is it worth upgrading? (more…)
For the first time digital music sold more than actual physical store sales of music, according to the latest results by Nielsen and Billboard. Digital Sales jumped by 8.4% to take 50.3% of the market. Physical sales dipped by 5%. Here are some interesting facts about this year in digital music sales:
Clearly people were eager to download even more music during the festive season, or maybe a lot of people needed to fill up their new music player or phone with some songs. Adele’s 21 was the year’s top selling album, and is also the best selling digital album of all time.
Apple has been pretty late to the subscription game for its iTunes store, and has only recently started offering its iTunes Match service in the US. But Apple has now made a deal with Big Fish Games, the creator of games like “Mystery Case Files” and “Mahjong Towers”. The service will give dozens of the Big Fish games for $7 a month.
This will work in a similiar fashion to services like Netflix. Instead of purchasing a game once off, you only pay the subscription fee, and use a internet connection to play the game. You can access a free version of the service which limits the games to 3o minutes a day. This is a significant change for Apple, as they have not used a trial version system of software until now, and the use of a monthly fee for a catalogue of games is a pretty great idea. Right now the user will install the Bigfish app, and then purchase a monthly subscription in app, which is taken from iTunes credit. Apps will be streamed over air, so you might need a decent internet connection.
While iOS games typically have low purchase prices, they tend to have limited game time associated with them. While $5 for a great game is a lot cheaper than other handheld platforms, you eventually stop playing it. We can only hope Apple brings this service to other game publishers as well – only time will tell if someone like EA is willing to work with this type of distribution model.
Oh – this is of course not available in SA, so you will need a US iTunes account to make this work. If you want to be able download Apps, Music, Movies, TV Series etc from the US iTunes store, even if you live in SA, here is how to do it.
iTunes is one of those apps I tend to have a love / hate relationship with. On the one hand, I have used iTunes for many years now and have as such built up a a very well organized iTunes library. My music is meticulously named and organized, new songs go through a smart playlist where I can quickly rate them etc. All in all a very familiar music player to me.
Across the web people seem to be happy with iTunes 10, but there is still a few people out there who are not impressed. Windows guru Paul Thurrott has over time become more and more negative towards Apple products in general, and has now finally gotten to the point where he thinks people should give up Apple. I have always respected his opinion, I believed it was objective and well thought out, but this time around I have to say I do not agree with his sentiment. He bases his article on the fact that iTunes is not as good as the Zune music player. Now I have played with Zune music player, and it is impressive. But giving up Apple because of iTunes? Please.
But I must agree with one thing – iTunes has become a dog. It is such a big mess of seperate components now, that it really is time for Apple to fix it. Now, many of us hoped iTunes 10 would be that release. While the speed boost is nice, its otherwise pretty much same old, same old. So I decided to think of ways Apple could fix iTunes.
1) Stop making iTunes bigger and bigger
Apple, last time I checked iTunes is more than 90 megs to download. True, broadband is becoming better and better so its not really the size that bothers me. Its the fact that Apple insists on installing every iTunes feature on my machine. If I do not have a Apple TV, why is the components already installed? If I dont have an Airport Express, why would I want Airplay? True, you migh argue that Apple tries to simplify things by making one thing that you download, and that many of these devices use the exact same framework. Thats fine – but then at least give me the option te remove certain components, especially considering that Apple’s iDevices portfolio is increasing every year (iPod, iPhone, iPad, AppleTv etc). Why is this an issue? That brings me to my next point.
2) Improve performance – a lot
First off, thanks Apple for improving things somewhat in iTunes 10. Hell, even my scrolling works properly. But the rest is still dog slow. But lets try to keep it that way please? You might also want to try writing the next iTunes in Cocoa. Objective-C will speed things up a lot. But I reckon its the porting to Windows that is the problem. The Windows version of iTunes is consistently worse than the Mac version.
Firing up large videos still take a lot of time, especially HD files. If HD files fire up instantly when using quicklook, why does iTunes take that long?
3) Wireless Sync
The very fact that Apple’s latest wifi enabled iDevices need to sync with a cable is beyond me. I think Apple needs to shift away from the idea that we have to tether their devices. I meet a lot of people who have never plugged in their iPhones once into their computer, seeing as they were activated at the store when they bought it. This means when they loose their phones, they have no backup anywhere. Now you might argue that is the result of their own stupidity – but how easy would it be for Apple to fix that with an automatic incremental backup over wifi? I am not saying Wifi should replace the USB cable (battery life with very large syncs is of course a concern), just give us the option?
4) Brighten up the interface
iTunes is becoming quite a ugly application to run. With all of Apple’s user interface design chops, do we not deserve a better looking application? Hell, if you squint your eyes its starting to look a like a spreadsheet. In iTunes 10 you removed the colours from your menu on the left – so it is now a big gray blob. Well, except for the album art. Take a look at the Zune player interface – while I might not agree with the design guidelines, you have to admit its a lot more attractive than the gray bohemeth that iTunes has become.
I also think Apple should make its Front Row interface part of iTunes (for PC’s as well). Yes, yes I know it goes my first point, but hear me out. Most people these days are getting bigger and bigger monitors, and as such are getting higher resolutions as well. On a full HD screen iTunes becomes quite a finicky guy to use from more than a meter away. Why not give us a 10 foot interface for iTunes as well?
But to be honest, I am a very happy camper with iTunes. Considering the number of features it is sporting these days, Apple has managed to keep the inteface remarkably refined – but not perfect. I reckon iTunes is up for a big rewrite in the future, with performance being issue number 1.
Related: If you want to be able download Apps, Music, Movies, TV Series etc from the US iTunes store, even if you live in SA, here is how to do it.
Is Apple finally targeting the lucrative Social Networking business? The big question has a lot of confusing answers and the latest speculation to add to that long list of answers — after the Paypal killer, is that Apple is keen on tying iTunes with a social application that should release to the market in the near future (whatever that means).
The application will be similar to Yahoo One Connect and will be capable of consolidating all social networking services.
As a consequence you will be able to broadcast what music you are listening to and you could even share music with people on your network. Not just that, you could connect with your friend’ friends and update all your statuses at one go. In combination with iTunes 9, your music status could also be broadcasted.
The problem with all these is that nothing is confirmed, which just leaves us in a state of jeopardy for now.