Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The iTunes Store Turns Ten

On Wednesday, Apple posted an interactive timeline chronicling a decade of easy, convenient, and inexpensive digital music purchases on the iTunes Store.

In the past ten years, the iTunes application has grown from a ghastly brushed metal interface to today’s beautiful Helvetica-and-artwork-heavy interface. Of course, not everyone thinks today’s iTunes package is great. Roberto Baldwin1 published a guide for Apple to making iTunes 11 “awesome again”. I don’t agree with all of his advice; for example, on search:

Now iTunes crams a list of items that relate to your search in a drop down menu instead of the player window. That’s not better. It’s confusing. If you choose an artist it pushes you into the Artists view. Not so helpful if you’re looking for a certain song by an artist where the list view would be a quicker search solution. Roll search back.

I prefer the new iTunes search, even though it’s desperately slow with my library. But if you dislike it, you can roll back to the old-style search by clicking the magnifying glass, and unchecking “Search Entire Library”. This, though, I agree with:

Even in iOS, Apple has separated videos and music. Stuffing all the media into the app has led to bloat. Video felt tacked on when it was introduced, and that hasn’t changed.

It’s such a gnarly way of mixing two media. At least iTunes 11 separates out movies with a much different interface, but it still feels tacked-on.

Over at The Verge, Nathan Ingraham has posted a good history of the necessary negotiations, iconic advertising, and key milestones in the iTunes story. Most intriguing is the section dedicated to the fate of various “iTunes killers” that have come and gone over the past decade.

This brings me neatly to Samsung’s about-to-launch media and app store:

Samsung’s relationship with Google in particular is growing more complicated by the day, Mr. Golvin said.

“Google is to some extent reliant on Samsung as the dominant seller of Android phones,” he said. “At the same time, Samsung is reliant on Google for the larger Android ecosystem, people building Android apps and delivering them through Play.”

Samsung is so dominant that this new store might — with emphasis on might — be able to sway control over Android to them. What if Samsung forks Android, and makes a proprietary version? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Samsung’s dominance must scare the shit out of Google.


  1. Pretty sure he’s not one of the Baldwin brothers. ↩︎