Almost two decades after Apple presented its panacea to a dying record industry, iTunes, the computer giant is finally unplugging its famous download store.
Buried in a stream of corporate updates shared overnight from California, where the trillion-dollar company is hosting its annual developer’s conference, Apple unveiled its own version of an iTunes-killer.
It’s unbundling what’s now become a clunky service into three all-new apps for music, TV and movies, and podcasts, which will launch later in year with the next version of Mac OS, titled “Catalina.”
The new Music app for Mac will be fast and fun to use, according to the corporate blurb, and should feature a licensed catalogue of more than 50 million songs, playlists and videos.
And what about your precious downloads? Apple thought of that. Users will have access to their entire music library, whether they’re downloaded, bought or ripped from a CD, a statement reads.
Apple will continue to operate the iTunes Music Store in the Finder on Mac, according to Billboard, and the iTunes app is expected to live on in Windows.
When it launched in the U.S. in 2003, the iTunes Music Stores was a breath of fresh air for a record industry that was trying and desperately failing to come up with an alternative to “free” (the download store arrived in Australia more than two years later, on Oct. 25, 2005).
At first, the industry ignored Napster and peer-to-peer technology. Then, it sued its customers for sharing music.
And the majors tried, and failed, with a handful of download services which, it has been said, were so complicated you’d need a degree in computer science to buy a tune from and sideload to your ancient device.
iTunes made it all so simple. And as the so-called digital jukebox and its catalogue grew, millions more consumers logged on.
Apple’s iPod and, later, the iPhone were so slick and easy to use, even a dummy could download a tune and take it for a spin.
Where Sony and its Walkman allowed music fans to take their songs on the go, Apple and its iTunes store taught the record industry how to sell its own music (though many weren’t happy with Apple’s terms).
The music-consuming world has moved onto streaming in a big way, with Spotify recently declaring it had signed-up its 100 millionth paid subscriber. With Apple Music launching in 2015, and downloads on the downturn, it was only a matter of time before iTunes would be retired.