What next?

Wow!

My news feed over the weekend and this morning was filled with all kinds or stories and opinion pieces about the future of iTunes. It appears that we’ll know what happens later today at the big WWDC 2019 event.

I’ll admit to smiling with the comments and complaints about what iTunes “had become”. I’ve never liked the program personally but I was forced to learn it and use it. Back in the day, we used to purchase a new piece of technology for our Computers in Education School Contacts and they would do their own explorations about how it could be used in the classroom. While our board was all Windows-based, my superintendent wasn’t. He suggested that we buy each school an iPod and see what they could do with them.

It required a bunch of memos but we finally convinced the IT Department that iTunes had to go onto the school computer image to make this happen. The results of the experimentation lead to a great deal of podcasting and other things. The best thing that I remember happening was a school using the iPod and music to have students do music interpretation while dancing with a SMARTBoard. You had to see it to believe it; it really was neat.

In the line of support, I had to figure out iTunes. Like many things from Apple, navigation wasn’t intuitive to this Windows user. But, I ended up learning enough to get by and used my own iPod for personal use. I still use it today; I’ll load up some tunes or podcasts and head out the door with the dog.

I normally take the time to learn much of the functionality of software. For some reason, I never had the desire to do that with iTunes. I figured out as much as I needed to get what I needed done and that was about it. I wasn’t even intrigued enough to figure out what the “Genius” button did. In fact, until I did Noa Daniel’s show, I hadn’t bothered to even think about playlists. I just like being surprised at what was going to come next. Fortunately, my iPod has me covered there at times with the wrong album cover for the song that it’s currently playing.

I’ve converted many a CD-ROM to digital and have made many digital purchases from the store and they all (I think) reside in my library. Every now and again something that I purchased on my Macintosh won’t play on Windows because of digital rights. Again, frustrating but not enough to want to spend significant time figuring out. Most of my use is what I call “superstitious behaviour” in that a certain sequence of things worked once and so probably will work again. It’s got me this far!

What I find interesting about the speculation is that iTunes will be broken up into smaller applications for music, podcasts, and television. Even the fact that people are speculating this makes me feel kind of good. I’m not the only one that is challenged by the current version. After all, it is 18 years old!

Maybe smaller, more purposeful applications will be easier to get my head around.

I guess we’ll find out later today.

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4 thoughts on “What next?

  1. Andrew Forgrave says:

    Hi Doug!

    As you know, we’ve both experienced a challenge in working with the two different platforms over the years. There’s no doubt that each platform has started from different first principles and has evolved forward over time such that both now share more common features than they did originally, and each still retains key elements of the original philosophy. I think the world is better off as a result of many minds helping the various technologies evolve over the years.

    I agree that iTunes has had a long run, and that it has certainly evolved over the years in terms of the functions that it has offered. While it originally had a focus on music and supporting the iPod (and changed the global music delivery model as a result), as the iPod line expanded to include the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad functionality, Apple strategically leveraged iTunes to support syncing data as well as music between the devices the host computer, eventually also promoting and installing apps to the existing user base as well. I think it is worth acknowledging that in addition to revolutionizing the music distribution industry, the iTunes-App Store model (with those long-touted hundreds of millions of user credit cards attached) paved the way for Google Play, Amazon, and Windows App store models as well.

    When iPhones, iPods Touch, and iPads gained WiFi and cellular connectivity — and as the bandwidth of the Internet expanded — it became less and less necessary to sync devices through a computer. Eventually disparate apps appeared on the mobile devices — supported behind the scenes by the existing user account and network-based backup infrastructure — and the need for iTunes sync functionality decreased. With Music, Podcasts, Movies (now TV) and the App Store on the mobile devices, the reliance on iTunes to bind everything together has run its course. For a number of years now, iTunes has been just a music player again (at least for me) and so rebranding it as Music makes a lot of sense. Now.

    I doubt that anyone at Apple back in 2000 said, “We’ll start with music with the bonus of contact data and calendars, then over time fold in Internet Radio, iTunes University, podcasting, movies, then Apps and then television, all the while expanding our base of clients until we can do all of that over a robust network such that we can eventually pare things back to just a music client once all the others have matured into their own.”

    But you never know.

    I’d say we need to give iTunes a lot of credit for all the things that have evolved under its watch.

  2. Seriously?

    A company that prides itself about its user interface and it takes eighteen years to fix it in one of its most used in-house applications?

  3. But you didn’t mention that they built a social network into it at one point that didn’t takeoff and so it was removed! Perhaps you missed that?

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