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What's to be done about iTunes? Tweak? Strip? Split?

Christopher Breen | Nov. 10, 2014
Each iteration of iTunes invites the question: How else might this be done? Chris Breen ponders the possibilities.

And so we must consider that were Apple to bust up iTunes into separate apps, its engineers would have to tackle the job not only on the Mac, but within Windows as well. You may have noticed that Apple has its fingers in a lot of pies these days--operating systems, productivity apps, media apps, mobile phones, tablets, wearables, computers, financial services, home tech, car tech, desktop computers, laptops, music streaming.... In short, the people working at Apple have plenty on their plates. Given this, how anxious do you think Apple is to create a whole slew of apps for Windows users? (And what engineering impropriety would you have to commit to earn an assignment to the team responsible for this drudgery?)

While there may be Apple employees anxious to explore iTunes alternatives on the Mac, I have to believe that the notion of bringing parity to Windows users poops this party in a hurry.

Wait it out
And finally, where I think we're really going: A new media model.

If you're still purchasing popular music you're part of a dying breed. Worldwide music sales from the iTunes Store has dropped 13 percent since the start of the year. This isn't due to a lack of good music but rather because the population of music buyers is shrinking. Young people consume much of their music from YouTube and streaming services. Older listeners are reluctant to give today's music a try.

Movie-watching habits are changing as well. Theater attendance has dropped (though not nearly as precipitously as music sales) and neighborhood video stores disappeared years ago. Instead, people are increasingly consuming movies and TV shows through streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (and cable channels that have embraced a la carte viewing).

How much sense does it make for Apple to invest time, effort, and a whole lot of money in an app that's focused on media ownership when the future promises all-media, all-the-time, anywhere? The company purchased Beats Music and routinely adds new Apple TV channels for a reason. And that reason isn't to convince you that media ownership is primed for a comeback.

Apple understands where this leads. And ultimately, I believe that determines iTunes' fate--an app that will remain largely as it is until such time that it's unneeded.


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