16 Comments

Summary:

Much of the discussion surrounding the Mac App Store has been around the repercussions it will have on Mac application development, but I think it could finally signal a significant change in the role iTunes plays in media management on the Mac.

itunes-appstore

Much of the discussion surrounding the Mac App Store has been around the repercussions it will have on Mac application development, but I think the conversation is missing something. I feel the Mac App Store could be the starting point for a better iTunes, or at least the death of iTunes as we know it today.

On the Mac, music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and every other type of media are downloaded and managed through one application: iTunes. This is entirely different from the way things are done in iOS, where the iTunes app is strictly for downloading media, while separate video, music, and photo apps are used for managing it.

As we learned in October, the stated goal of OS X Lion is to bring features of iOS back to the Mac. It seems likely that could include the way different types of media are managed on iOS, meaning separated apps for managing and downloading content.

It actually sounds pretty great to me: iTunes would be used exclusively for downloading media, and then there can be secondary apps for managing it. A music app for music and podcasts, a video app for movies and TV shows, and then a books app for, well, books, and so on. Oh, and also a separate app for Ping. We can’t forget Ping. While it may seem more complicated, it would actually make more logical sense from a user perspective. Where does one go to see video? The Video app. Why would a user new to the platform ever expect to find that content in something called “iTunes?”

Of course this leads to the question of how all this media is going to be synced to iOS devices. For that, Apple could bring back the long-neglected iSync application. Beef it up, make it more apparent to the user, and there you’ve got your syncing solution. It could be somewhat like the Windows Phone 7 sync client for Mac.

And it could be that the release of the Mac App Store is just the first step in this transition. It’s worth noting how similar the Mac App Store icon is to the iTunes icon. Both are circular and blue. The only real difference is the image in the middle. The icons for the iOS versions of the App Store and iTunes are also quite similar, the main difference being that former icon is blue and the latter purple:

By making the icons so similar, Apple could be setting the groundwork for a decentralization of iTunes. Since iTunes just turned 10, I think it’s time for a change from the trend of more bloat, and I hope Apple agrees.

What do you think? Do you envision a future where iTunes isn’t the master of your iOS life? Or are you happy with one application managing everything? Tell us in the comments.

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  1. “Do you envision a future where iTunes isn’t the master of your iOS life?”

    That, and hopefully something they did to Safari – give it a windows NATIVE GUI so it isn’t a resource hogger.

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    1. Agreed. I wonder why it’s taking them so long to give iTunes a Windows native makeover.

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  2. Personally, I’d love to have different applications to manage my media. However, I think the problem with that is that not all iPod users are Mac users, and I doubt that any Windows user would want to download that many different applications just to get their iPod working. Of course, Apple could make the syncing process different on Mac and Windows…

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  3. I was hoping that they would combine that App Store and iTunes. Maybe it’s just me, but I like having a minimal system.

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    1. Agreed. I was hoping that it would be in one client as well.

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  4. well, it’s really well thought, and I hope it does go that way! so basically, the iTunes app on the Mac will be basically just the iTunes Store (just like on iOS), and having a separate app for videos, music, books, apps, is just amazing! I really hope they go that way.

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  5. I have long wanted a decentralized iTunes. It’s too bloated, and the name implies music. I guess Steve didn’t foresee iTunes turning into a mass media store and only saw music as a viable digital format.

    Now iTunes is such a household name it’s difficult to kill it, or transform it into something different. I’m looking forward to Lion to see what Steve wants to do.

    I don’t see this as a Lion-only change either. While it may be introduced when Lion is, the other Mac OS X builds should also receive the same treatment. After all, “the experience is the consistent.”

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  6. As someone who uses Finder and just double clicks on the media to play it, I can’t see why anyone would want to make a philosophical point over how many different apps there are to push the media file in question through Quicktime. Indeed, this most often fires up Quicktime Player Pro for me, but that’s just because of the way I’ve set Finder up. (So I guess that means you already have your wish of “more than one app”…)

    From a pure support point of view, one app seems clearly best, but apart from that, why would anyone get worked up about it?

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  7. it would be awesome if all itunes did was music.

    Wilson: I don’t agree that simplification means that you have this behemoth piece of software that does everything. I think a minimal system is where you have lots of little utilities that all do one thing very well and work well together. aka, the unix mentality.

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  8. Your “Video” app already exists. It’s called Quick Time.

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    1. QuickTime doesn’t manage video, though.

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      1. QuickTime Player doesn’t manage video, but iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie and the Media Browser all do. It’s a bit of a mess.

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  9. I respect your opinion, but I would not want this change to happen. The main reason the Mac App Store is not part of iTunes, I think, is because it would be confusing to consumers. Some people would be confused and buy apps for their iPhone, when they thought they were buying an app for their Mac. The sophisticated computer user wouldn’t have this problem, but I have quite a few relatives who definitely would. iTunes is well organized around the principle that everything iOS resides within it.

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  10. I agree — iTunes has to be pared down to something new, with less of a memory footprint. Separating it out into different apps makes a whole lot of sense. Don’t need the iTunes store open? Close it. Not watching a video? Don’t open the ‘Videos’ app. It goes on from there.

    (Not to mention the fact that the name ‘iTunes’ is in itself a misnomer.)

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