It’s time to criticise the champ


Guy English’s blog is in a folder in my RSS feed reader called “SPWSWM”, that stands for “Smart People Who Should Write More”. His most recent piece — Three Things That Should Trouble Apple — really deserves your full attention. Guy shares my exact feelings when he writes:

I believe that many Apple observers have been too invested in picking off the low hanging fruit of obviously out-of-touch commentators, columnists, and analysts. Apple is winning. It’s fun to pick on the idiots, and we do tune in for the affirmation that engenders, but that’s not insight. It’s a tag team wedgie patrol. It takes a clever intellect to dismantle bullshit but, ultimately, it often just ends up with pantsing the dumb guy. Rather than doing that let’s aim to pants the A-grade quarterback.

I agree with him on everything, especially regarding iTunes:

iTunes is dead. But it’s still the big play. Microsoft became trapped in the Windows legacy and now, it appears, that Apple is becoming trapped into the iTunes legacy. How is it possible to make a radical transformation, with regards to media management, on the majority of iOS devices without addressing the the train-wreck that is iTunes?

iCloud is a start. But it can’t yet carry all the water.

There are indications that iTunes as the hub is losing favour. As it should be. iTunes was a terrific app ten years ago, but today, it has absorbed too much functionality that there has to be a rethink.

I’ve been criticising the bloated-ness of iTunes since version 8, more or less. I’ve been jokingly calling it ‘Apple’s very own MS Word’ for its progressive feature creep. I’ve often played armchair-designer with iTunes, asking myself how I would rethink it if I had the daunting task of redesigning it. The first obvious thing that comes to mind is splitting iTunes into different, smaller, sleeker applications, each taking care of major tasks like managing music, managing books/audiobooks and managing apps and iOS devices. Then I thought that maybe some people, despite iTunes’ shortcomings, still prefer having just one application running instead of three separate ones, but on the other hand iOS’s aesthetics are increasingly getting everyone used to this kind of separation.

Or maybe Apple could maintain iTunes as a single application but remove a lot of visual clutter and make users feel it’s a lighter application. For instance, when it’s used just as a media player, iTunes’ interface could morph into a simpler one, showing only media-player-related features.

Whatever the approach, it’s undeniable that iTunes is in bad need of a change.

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