Although some form of iTunes will live on in iPhones, iPads and Windows devices, Apple is essentially phasing out iTunes as we know it.
iTunes proceeded to help kill CD sales by selling digital albums for $10 and singles for 99 cents.
“There was a time when every Mac had iTunes running full-time. For me, that time was college. iTunes was never perfect, but I vividly remember spending hours organizing playlists,” said Lex Friedman, who wrote a book on iTunes Match and is also the chief revenue officer at audio platform Art19. “It was never the sexiest nor speediest app, but for managing music, it was great, and it was Apple’s, and it worked.”
“People should never forget that at one time, (iTunes) was one of the best and most important software titles in the world, on both Mac and Windows,” Walt Mossberg, Recode co-founder and tech journalist, told CNN Business. “It was also one of the most frequently installed by consumers.”
iTunes no longer on top
These days, iTunes is no longer king or as beloved.
Jack Kent, executive director of media and advertising at IHS Markit, said iTunes’ death was due to a shift away from people feeling like they needed to own the songs to which they wanted to listen to simply paying a fee for access to a “single comprehensive library of content” like Spotify or Apple Music.
And the app is no longer as fun to use as it once was.
“In recent years, iTunes turned into a bloated mess. It had too many tasks and features,” Mossberg said. “So I like the idea of splitting it into separate, more media-centric apps.”
Friedman agreed: “As Apple started packing more and more into iTunes — iPod syncing which made some sense; iPhone syncing, which didn’t; movies, audiobooks, apps, TV shows…it became a mess.”
iTunes will remain a marker for the early 2000s — and a reminder of how far our digital services have come since then.
As Friedman said, “iTunes will hold both a special and stressful place in my memory. I loved it and then eventually loved when I could avoid it as much as possible.”
For Apple, iTunes was an entry point into the homes of millions of users.
“Services like (iTunes) have enabled Apple to stand out compared to competition,” said Roberta Cozza, senior director analyst at Gartner. She pointed out that Apple used iTunes to prove it wasn’t just a hardware maker, but also an ecosystem owner.
She said the death of iTunes is exciting because Apple will have to fill that void with something even more valuable.
“An iTunes by any other name is still essentially iTunes,” said Dan Moren, a podcaster and tech journalist. “I’ll pour one out for the name, but after nearly two decades, I’m ready to move on to something better.”
CNN Business’ Heather Kelly contributed to this report.