The day the music died: Apple pitched to end iTunes and the download era

Apple is giving its once-revolutionary program iTunes - which made online music mainstream and blunted the impact of piracy - its latest push towards the grave.

Apple is giving its once-revolutionary program iTunes - which made online music mainstream and blunted the impact of piracy - its latest push towards the grave. Photo: Getty

As subscription-style music streaming becomes the norm and vinyl sales savour a heyday, Apple is set to drive the final nail into the coffin of the once revolutionary music platform, iTunes.

The program released in 2001 catapulted Apple’s sensational growth, with music lovers discovering the joys of pocket-sized, portable music, after shouldering boom boxes or clasping chunky CD Walkmans.

The end of the iTunes ‘download era’ has been mooted for years but on Friday afternoon, social media was abuzz with the music platform’s demise.

During its annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Jose California on Monday, Apple is set to announce iTunes replacement with three dedicated, standalone music, television and podcast apps, according to Bloomberg News.

The details of iTunes’ reported end have yet to be made public, but users will likely have access to their downloads through Apple’s streaming service, Apple Music.

Representatives of the California-based multinational technology company did not respond to requests for comment from The New Daily.


Apple iTunes has been a way of life for music lovers for almost two decades. Photo: Getty

The move would decommission iTunes as the all-encompassing media application for 18 years and align with Apple’s media strategy across iPhones and iPads that already separate the apps – unlike the centralised iTunes that lives on Macs and MacBooks.

Users can expect the new Music app to look similar to iTunes – such as purchasing songs and synching phones ­– but with a sleeker experience than the nearly two-decade old product, according to Rolling Stone.

But the scrapping of iTunes is mainly a symbolic moment in the age of music services from downloading to streaming, with media services such as Spotify, as well as Apple Music that launched in 2015.

Apple launched its own streaming service, Apple Music in 2015. Photo: Getty

iTunes was also the first to commercialise digital musical files and led to a significant decrease in physical musical sales like CDs.

In the US the Recording Industry Association of America, recorded music revenue shrunk by more than half – from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $7 billion by 2010.

CDs were replaced with buying and organising songs into a local iTunes ‘library’ and individualised playlists.

Stacks of CDs as well as MP3s gathered from music blogs and sites such as MegaUpload and LimeWire could be imported into the program and organised into one, simple, personalised music collection.

Before iTunes debuted, the music industry was also in tatters trying to combat illegal file sharing websites such as Napster.


Former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs claimed to revolutionise the music industry with iTunes. Photo: Getty

“The record companies are in a difficult situation because people want to buy their music online, but there’s no real way to do it, so they steal it,” then Apple chief executive Steve Jobs Jobs said at the time.

Mr Jobs said iTunes presented “a middle way, a middle path out of this” and a “digital music revolution” when first announcing the program at the MacWorld Expo in January of 2001.

“iTunes is miles ahead of every other jukebox application and hopes to dramatically simplify user interface that will bring even more people into the digital music revolution,” Mr Jobs said.

But at the heart of iTunes was the former CEO’s competitive vision for technology – creating devices and programs for individuals versus businesses and corporations – symbolised in the lower case ‘i’ for every Apple product – iPhone, iTunes, iMac.

During the launch of the first iMac in 1998, Mr Jobs said the ‘i’ stood for the internet, individual, instruct, inform and inspire.

“We are the personal computer company, and although this product is born to network, it also is a beautiful stand-alone product,” he said.

Topics: Apple
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