The Guardian puts to words something I’ve been thinking for a long time: that iTunes is actually Apple’s weakest link. You’d be forgiven for believing the opposite — iTunes is arguably Apple’s strongest brand, given that it encompasses all of the “mobile device company’s” products, and remains the springboard for all iPhones, iPods, and iPads, even across into Windows-land. I’m sure there are even non-Apple customers that use iTunes to organize and share their music. So, there’s no question that iTunes is a powerful component of Apple’s success so far.
But at the same time, it’s become a crutch. As John Naughton says, this is “feature creep on an heroic scale.” The application was started as SoundJam, meant specifically for music playback, but at this point, iTunes serves as a movie and TV rental service, a music recommendation service, a phone activation service, the largest mobile software platform in the world, a contact sync app, a media sharing app, an e-book marketplace, a podcasting service, backup software, and oh yeah, now it’s the home base for what’s supposed to be a scalable music-based social network. When you think about it that way, the new logo wasn’t nearly different enough.
Apple’s walking a tightrope here — on the one hand, why not put all of your eggs in the basket that’s free to download and easy to use? Why not allow the piece of software everyone has to do everything you want everyone to do? It’s a Trojan horse writ large — give the software away, and sell the hardware that works with it.
But on the other hand, the name “iTunes” doesn’t stand for half of what that app does these days, and anyone who’s ever tried to organize or update a couple hundred apps from within iTunes itself knows that there must be a better way.
Original Post: TUAW