Here’s What You’d Have if You Broke Up iTunes on the Desktop

The iTunes Store is 14 years old today, and these sorts of anniversaries are always good times to reflect on the state of a service, or an app. I think the iTunes Store is mature, comprehensive, and relatively easy to use. But what crossed my mind this morning is the suggestion I often hear that the iTunes app, on Mac and Windows, should be split into several more focused apps.

People who suggest this point to the iOS model, where there are separate apps. There’s a Music app, an iTunes Store app, an App Store app, and so on. There are a total of seven different apps, in fact.

This approach makes sense on iOS for several reasons. First, iOS is a one-app-one-window operating system. You can switch between apps almost like you switch between windows on the desktop, and these apps only have limited screen space (since they have to work on the iPhone), and having multiple tabs or menus isn’t practical.

But there are a lot of apps; seven in fact.

And there’s one that you would need on the desktop that doesn’t exist on iOS: it would be called Sync, for example.

Remember that iTunes on the desktop is not just for playing and downloading files, but it’s also for file management – such as creating playlists and editing metadata – and for syncing content to iOS devices. So no matter how you split iTunes, you would need a sync app somewhere.

But is it really logical to have eight separate apps on the desktop to do what iTunes does? I see no justification for this, no matter how feature-loaded iTunes is, and no matter how people think it should be trimmed down. Yes, iTunes has problems, but I can’t see that turning it into eight apps would make things any better. It would become an unwieldy suite of apps, instead of a single app, and users would be much more confused than they are now.