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Why Apple has to iCloud-ify the next version of iTunes

The next version of iTunes(s AAPL) is getting a pretty dramatic makeover, according to a brief report published Wednesday evening by Bloomberg. The changes will reportedly be the biggest the software has seen and will be implemented before the end of the year.

There aren’t a lot of details regarding specific changes Apple will make, but the few that are detailed are telling:

The company will more closely integrate its iCloud file-storage service with iTunes so users can more seamlessly access and manage their music, videos and downloaded software apps across different Apple gadgets, the people said. Apple also plans more features for sharing music, the people said.

So Apple is going to integrate iTunes with iCloud. That makes sense: Apple has made it clear that iCloud is a core company strategy “for the next decade.” But it’s also clear that Apple doesn’t really have a choice. It has to move iTunes into the cloud and into the future to more fully embrace its post-PC worldview.

iCloud is just over a year old and in that time it’s come a long way. Customers have signed up for it — 125 million so far — and Apple has been integrating more products into it. Last year it introduced music, photos, contacts, mail and calendar syncing, and iTunes Match with iCloud. At WWDC this year Apple says iCloud will be integrated with its browser, Safari, Documents and apps in forthcoming OS X Mountain Lion, and it beefed up Photostream sharing features. Apple is methodically expanding iCloud to its product lineup — iTunes is just one of the next products on the list.

The competition is also something Apple has to be keeping an eye on too. Amazon(s AMZN) and Google(s GOOG) are both coming for it with their cloud-based content services. Google showed on Wednesday that it’s starting to get serious about going after Apple’s iTunes strategy, by adding movies, TV shows and magazines to its Play store.

Plus, iTunes is aging and could use a good polish. It started as a place to discover and buy music, but Apple’s continued to tack services onto it over the years: it’s no longer just a place to discover and buy music, but TV shows, movies, digital books, online learning courses, podcasts and, of course, the massive and successful App Store. This isn’t spelled out in the report, but it’s also worth wondering whether Apple will use this opportunity to make the software more manageable. Perhaps by taking a page from the iOS team, which has successfully been able to split apart Music, Videos, App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks and most recently, Podcasts, into distinct apps.

5 Responses to “Why Apple has to iCloud-ify the next version of iTunes”

  1. Joseph Ostiguy

    i think it would be a great new feature to add to allow developers to make third party apps that can be added to itunes (like moodagent?) id also like to see a forum/chat room feature ware users can post about apps that they would like or features to apps they already use. rather than developers spiting out apps at random hoping for a best seller. other than that, allow use to buy ring tones form the desktop version of itunes again, i cant find anything on the mobile itunes let alone ring tones.

  2. Bob Smith

    The problem I have with this is Apple is again ignoring basic iTunes functionality. You can’t move your library around to different directories, for example. Yes, I know about the import function, but it totally screws up some things (podcasts aren’t properly associated to their podcast, they end up being regular audio tracks; movies and video will sometimes get lost) and entirely ignores others (PDF books, which you must manually reimport one-by-one). You still can’t really maintain parallel lossless/lossy libraries.

  3. People always forget about the iTunes U app. But yeah, the iTunes U stuff are still in the Videos app and there’s still a link on the iTunes store app.