It’s time to bid farewell to iTunes, the once-revolutionary program that made online music sales mainstream and effectively blunted the impact of piracy.
That assumes, of course, that you still use iTunes—and many people no longer do. On iPhones, the functions have long been split into separate apps for music, video and books. Mac computers follow suit Monday with a software update called Catalina.
Music-subscription services like Spotify and Apple Music have largely supplanted both the iTunes software and sales of individual songs, which iTunes first made available for 99 cents apiece. Apple is now giving iTunes its latest push toward the grave. For anyone who has subscribed to Apple Music, the music store will now be hidden on the Mac.
Sidelining the all-in-one iTunes in favor of separate apps for music, video and other services will let Apple build features for specific types of media and better promote its TV-streaming and music services to help offset slowing sales of iPhones.
In the early days, iTunes was simply a way to get music onto Apple’s marquee product, the iPod music player. Users connected the iPod to a computer, and songs automatically synced—simplicity unheard of at the time.
“I would just kind of mock my friends who were into anything other than iPods,” said Jacob Titus, a 26-year-old graphic designer in South Bend, Indiana.
Apple launched its iTunes Music Store in 2003, two years after the iPod’s debut. With simple pricing at launch—99 cents a single, $9.99 for most albums—many consumers were content to buy music legally rather than seek out sketchy sites for pirated downloads.
But over time, iTunes software expanded to include podcasts, e-books, audiobooks, movies and TV shows. In the iPhone era, iTunes also made backups and synced voice memos. As the software got bloated to support additional functions, iTunes lost the ease and simplicity that gave it its charm.
And with online cloud storage and wireless syncing, it no longer became necessary to connect iPhones to a computer—and iTunes—with a cable.