Apple has elected to follow where the iPhone led and offer separate apps for music, video and other services – instead of the all-in-one offer once provided by iTunes. As such, the music player that was once a global force has been consigned to the digital scrapheap.
With streaming Spotify and Apple Music now more popular than ever, the old model of purchasing digital music (typically for 99p a song) has fallen out of favour. In fact, revenue from digital music downloads fell by 18% in just the first half of 2019, whilst that of streaming sites rose by 30%.
In its day, however, iTunes was hailed not only as a driver for turning digital music sales mainstream, but also for severely denting the volume of music piracy ushered in through the likes of Limewire and early versions of Napster.
iPhones have long seen a distinction in their apps, with music, books and films kept separate. Now, this approach will be rolled out across Mac devices – signalling the beginning of the end of iTunes.
Many had seen the iTunes demise coming. A platform that was – as is Apple’s calling card – built on cleanliness and simplicity had become bulky and bloated. Whilst the addition of support for video, podcasts, audiobooks, TV shows, radio stations and more kept pace with user demands, it made iTunes much less sleek and minimalist than it was originally designed to be. Furthermore, the syncing feature that was once thought of as futuristic and revolutionary has been supplanted – with cloud hosting and faster streaming making cable connectivity redundant.
Whilst there is much change, some things have remained the same. Apple’s Music app for Mac devices will inherit the iTunes logo, and will automatically port over any music or other downloads in a user’s library. Users will also be able to restore the iTunes store if they so wish, though they have to go into the settings and do it manually.
More recently, in just the past few days, Apple has posted a job offer looking for a software engineer with experience of Windows apps – suggesting it may be a case of when and not if the iTunes successor is formally unveiled.