six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Is this the beginning of the end for iTunes?

Today Apple is stripping the iTunes branding from its podcast directory, turning it from “iTunes Podcasts” into “Apple Podcasts.”

On its own this is a minor change, and one that makes sense: In its most popular context, Apple’s podcast directory is accessed from the Podcasts app on iOS. iTunes is not a brand that needs to be associated with that product at all—it was only there because more than a decade ago, Apple extended the iTunes Store infrastructure and added podcast support to iTunes on the desktop. It was a long time ago. (Podcasters can get new badges to reflect the change.)

Looking at the larger picture, though, I have to assume that this is one part of a long, inexorable de-branding of iTunes. It proved to be a brand that was capable of having all sorts of non-tune-related things stuffed inside of it, but it was always an awkward fit and at some point it needed to be addressed.

The bigger question is what happens on the desktop, especially the Mac. Will the iTunes app finally be replaced? I discussed the long, painful history of iTunes with Allen Pike on the Úll Radio podcast this week in Ireland, and it couldn’t have been more clear to both of us that Apple needs to rethink the entire thing. But the question is, does Apple have the will to allocate the resources to create new Music, TV, and Podcast apps for macOS?

Maybe if we’re lucky, the next version of macOS will consign iTunes to the same nether region as QuickTime 7—available for those who need it, but never to be updated—and give us decent, dedicated apps for playing music, video, and podcast on our Macs.

…or maybe it’s just a rebranding of a podcast directory. But I hold out hope that this is the start of something bigger.

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