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iTunes' Windows Problem 332

Hugh Pickens writes "Jean-Louis Gassée writes that iTunes is the best thing that has happened to Apple because without iTunes' innovative micropayment system and its new way of selling songs one at a time, the iPod would have been just another commodity MP3 player. The well-debugged iTunes infrastructure turned out to be a godsend for the emergence of the iPhone. But today, the toxic waste of success cripples iTunes: increasingly non-sensical complexity, inconsistencies, layers of patches over layers of patches ending up in a structure so labyrinthine no individual can internalize it any longer. 'It's a giant kitchen sink piled high with loosely related features, and it's highly un-Apple-like' says Allen Pike. 'Users know it, critics know it, and you can bet the iTunes team knows it. But for the love of god, why?' People naturally suggest splitting iTunes into multiple apps, but Apple can't, because many, if not most iOS users are on Windows. It's Apple's one and only foothold on Windows, so it needs to support everything an iOS device owner could need to do with their device. 'Can you imagine the support hurricane it would cause if Windows users suddenly needed to download, install, and use 3-4 different apps to sync and manage their media on their iPhone?' But help may be on the way with iOS 5. As iCloud duplicates more and more of iTunes' sync functionality, they can start removing it from iTunes. 'Apple is very explicit about it in their marketing materials: they call it "PC Free". They're not quite there yet, but they're driving towards a future where you don't need to manage your iOS device with a PC at all – Mac or Windows.'"
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iTunes' Windows Problem

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  • by casings ( 257363 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:45AM (#39711083)

    I would be interested in the statistics, because I definitely will never use this feature, and in fact prefer to sync with my computer.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:52AM (#39711183)
    All Apple products are banned from our business network and have been for years. All of their software (iTunes, Quicktime) causes so many various problems in any version of Windows, that we decided to just ban all of it.
  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:52AM (#39711197)

    Set-up a separate team of programmers. One working on the original iTunes for one final release (11), and a new one rewriting the whole thing to produce a better cleaner iTunes (12).

    Apple's done it once before, when they developed the final version of the Classic OS (9) and the new OS X concurrently.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:54AM (#39711223) Journal

    If everything moves to the cloud, you become dependent on the cloud. How much is managing your iDevice worth? $0/yr? $10/yr? What if you could sync everything through that cloud - all your music, all your shows? Now how much would you pay? $10/month? $20/month? What about backing up all your photos and documents? $30/month? And offering some streaming content? $40/month? $50/month?

    If the cloud option is popular enough, we'll see the PC version (and possibly even the Mac version) fall lower and lower on the priority list for bug fixes, upgrades, and UI unification. It may come that buying into an iDevice means a monthly fee to use effectively, just as if you buy a phone. Sure, you can try to cheat the system, but you're going to get a significantly inferior service, or you'll spend so much time just keeping things up to date that you'll find it's not worth it.

    I see this as the next revenue stream for Apple.

    Personally, I'm limited to a 4Mb DLS line as my fastest (reliable) internet option. Syncing 40-120GB of personal music on each device when it goes toes up (and most have done that at some point; my phone has twice) is going to be a real bear. Movies? TV? You can't store/swap them locally, and the network providers will be salivating over the b/w charges (or business-class fees for those that go over their caps).

  • iCloud? No thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:54AM (#39711231)

    I'm one of those weirdos who actually doesn't mind iTunes as is. I generally know where the things are that I need it to do and don't really demand a ton of it (organize my music, change ID3 tags, auto-download a bunch of podcasts for me, and when I plug in my phone, sync it all without me having to do anything).

    I have ZERO interest in using iCloud. I want my data secured locally and backed up myself. I don't want the potential for lost/stolen data as my data is now in a giant honeypot with everyone else's data. I don't want the inevitable, "oh, yea, this isn't anonymous at all, and the gov't decided to go through iCloud and send you a $999999999 fine for having 1 song you may or may not have paid for."

    So if Apple's answer is, "trust us with your data/music collection or you're not using iTunes anymore," then my answer is going to be to not use iTunes anymore.

  • Don't split it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:57AM (#39711275)

    Most people who want it split up only use one of apple's products or services. What about people like me who have an apple tv, use the itms all the time and have huge collections of video and music. I like having it in one application. In fact, I find it annoying that it has to launch iPhoto when I sync my phone everyday. Now you guys want it to start 4 applications that all hit the forground and vie for my attention. No, I don't want that.

    1 bloated apple app is enough thanks. It's not like they'd get thin and light if they split them up. They'd all have to use the same shared libraries and load the same garbage into memory but then have extra overhead for the address space of 4 processes. I don't see how this helps the situation.

    What apple needs to do is optimize iTunes. Get rid of dead code. Put it on a diet, but don't remove functionality. Can you imagine the code cruft for having it support two platforms and not being able to use some of the native Mac stuff?

    It's not my fault that you guys only drank a little kool-aid and don't see the benefit of one app. I drank most of the kool-aid and it's painful for them to split it up.

  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:19PM (#39711583)

    Set-up a separate team of programmers. One working on the original iTunes for one final release (11), and a new one rewriting the whole thing to produce a better cleaner iTunes (12).

    And here's where you run into the real problem: Apple never devotes enough coding resources to do this sort of stuff. This is why it took a year+ to get copy/paste on the iPhone, and it's also why iCloud doesn't feel 'quite there yet'.

    I'm not at Apple, but people who are tell me that there's basically an A-team of good coders, and they get shifted around to whatever project makes the most sense at the time. Apple probably has the cash to fix this, but they don't seem to want to.

    As a more general complaint, why isn't iOS PC-free yet? iCloud cost Apple a fortune and it almost lets me do everything without iTunes -- yet try to put a video on my phone, suddenly I'm looking for my USB cable and trying to figure out which computer has my iTunes library on it (because god forbid I sync with the wrong one, I'll wipe my phone).

  • Case in point... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:32PM (#39711759) Homepage

    We bought a seasons pass for a TV show on iTunes on the ATV. It took us a surprisingly long time to figure out how to watch this on the Mac laptop.

    The purchase did not appear in the item called "purchases", nor "TV", which only showed the things we already downloaded. Going into the Store, we found the show, and double clicking on it cause a smaller all-black window to appear with an episode list. Clicking on these played the preview. Eventually we figured out that clicking the cloud icon would download the episode. We could then go to the Downloads screen, and double-click to watch it as it streamed.

    So logical.

    As if this were not enough, last night we could no longer make this work. The episode list that used to open when we double clicked... somewhere... no longer appears. We tried everything.

    Its time for this to die.

  • Re:No iDevice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:38PM (#39711857)

    I don't have an iDevice and don't want one, but a couple days ago I had to load iTunes just to get a specific music release that wasn't available anywhere else.

    Unless you are a professional music critic who needed to have that particular track for your work - no you didn't.

    The correct procedure in that case is to vote with your feet, don't buy the music and, if possible, send feedback to the band saying that you want to choose where you buy your music from. There are other suppliers with a huge range of music available, so its not like you're going to be stuck listening to the same Radiohead album over and over. I do have an iDevice but the only thing I buy through iTunes are apps - a process which is already "PC free" and since iDevice apps will no more run on non-iDevices than Apple II software used to run on a Commodore PET, the lock-in is pretty moot. However, I want to be able to play media on non-iDevices without the loss of transcoding, so all my music and video comes from ripped CDs/DVDs or has been bought as MP3s from other sources.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @04:50PM (#39715639)

    I particularly like the iOS device syncing driver, I've had that thing put all my CPU cores to 100% load when a sync fails (which happened quite often for a while because that wide port on the iPod doesn't grip the plug very well and even touching the cable can interfere with the connection) and the only recourse is a reboot, stopping the service only drops the load of one core, the others stay at 100%.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments