Breaking Up the iTunes Conglomerate

It’s no secret that over the years, iTunes has become bloated.

What was once an MP3 player has grown into a monstrosity. What started life as SoundJam MP can barely recognize itself in the mirror these days. iTunes can rip and burn CDs (that used to be a big deal, kids), be used to purchase music and other media, stream radio, listen to podcasts, watch movies and sync to not only iPods, but iPhones and iPads, too.

Apple generally likes simplicity, and it’s time that iTunes goes on a diet, as Timer Koala Sing said on Twitter the other day:

Why can’t the media store and App Store merge, iSync can come back for device management, & iTunes can just be a media jukebox?

My buddy Rob chimed in with this, which has to be a factor when considering this:

@timerkoalasing @512px I often wonder if iTunes on Windows is the obstacle.

Apple’s dislike for building Windows apps aside, a world where iTunes gets stripped back would be good for everyone. With the advent of streaming services and things like iCloud, many nerds can go weeks without opening the application. I’ve lost count over the years of times friends or clients have complained about iTunes being slow or confusing.

By returning iTunes to its roots as a music player — and possibly adding streaming — it could make its way back to the Docks of many Mac users.

Perhaps more importantly, putting media purchasing in another (read: better) app could help sales of music, movies and TV shows. Podcasts could enjoy a bigger spotlight. Apps could be treated like first-class citizens, not an add-on to an existing experience.

This sort of move would be big, but not completely unprecedented. With OS X Mavericks, Apple peeled off iBooks into its own silo. While I’m not suggesting Apple follow this road to having a Videos application with a video-only store bolted to the back, I think some splintering of the iTunes conglomerate is overdue.