A eulogy for iTunes, and the MP3 era (Latest version)


With Apple iTunes breaks down at this year's WWDCIt is noteworthy that this is the last major cornerstone of the MP3 era that reaches the end of the program. This is bittersweet in some way. I have nothing but terrible memories of iTunes, but now Minidiscs, CDs, iPods, Napster, MySpace, portable hard disk music players and even record clubs are now dead or unrecognizable. It feels like much of my life is finally over.

iTunes was the catalyst for the MP3 era

While Android fans may not care much about one of Apple's most malignant-but-somehow successful businesses, it's important to note that iTunes is the reason why MP3 won the last format war so soon. Back in the early 2000s, the MP3 player exploded market overnight, but sustained content pledge legal action envisaged MP3 hardware dependent on an affordable legal way to acquire digital music .

The smart phone can be streamers media player, but the iPod is what made digital music mainstream.

Piracy was extremely popular in the early days of the MP3 revolution, but the only way to really make money out of the phenomenon was to make an MP3 player – something an MP3 user can actually know, use to listen to their music. A clumsy of these devices was released, and after the recording industry, American artists lost their suit against Diamond for their MP3 player. The floodplains were opened to device manufacturers to pay in cash.

However, the decision did not protect the files. While Napster, an online peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing service, was the preferred mechanism for many to get their songs, there were not many ways to legally access music in this format. It was a void that would really reward the first service to create a legitimate market.

As of 2001, Apple was the biggest name in direct digital downloads to other players such as Amazon and MySpace, which were obsolete as distribution platforms.

Napster only survived until 2001 before fleeing legal action, but the demand for digital music did not go away. It was a much better format on the CD. so appleSince the opportunity to handle a new market currently populated by retailers has done exactly by setting the iPod and its required legal market: iTunes.

By providing a digital music player that is compatible with both Windows and MacOS and a not-so-priced digital music market, the iPod (with the necessary software iTunes) was & # 39; n quick hit. From 2001, Apple was the biggest name in direct digital downloads to other players such as Amazon and MySpace (yes yes, I know) outdated as distribution platforms. But, as you needed iTunes to run an iPod for many years, it was a monolith in music publishing. Apple was the company responsible for the fact that America was downloaded into legitimate digital music in the 2000s.

Although the MP3 was the superior format for physical media, it never really reached the levels of dominance that the CD ever did. While this is due to the fact that it is released alongside its ultimate successor, the other problem is that buy-to-own is almost always more expensive than a subscription service. We saw it with digital movie content, and music followed very quickly.

Cause of death: Streaming

& Nbsp; N Image from a smart phone with the on-screen Plex music player.

Streaming kills the digital star.

Before we move on, it is noteworthy that Apple is acting much more than a financial giant as a technology company. Although it doesn't necessarily play the market in ways you can expect, it's definitely eager to push the market to come forward. This is fairly standard behavior for any market leader, but as Apple is so big, it can cut its own path a little. For example, kill the headphone jack was a primary money-based decision.

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Anyone who keeps tables on the music industry could probably have seen the death of iTunes coming a mile away. I say this because the music of streaming music has almost completely eaten, and it eventually finished the CD as the dominant format people use to listen to music.

A chart containing RIAA statistics on format music sales, including cassettes, vinyl, CD, digital and streaming.

Recording industry Artists of America Streaming (green) is on an upward trajectory at the expense of digital (press) and CD (gray).

According to data provided by the Recording Industry Artists of America (RIAA), streaming music such as & # 39; is a rocket. From 2015 to 2018, revenue from paid and ad-supported flow services ballooned from $ 2.3 billion a year to $ 7.4 billion. If you believe that digital downloads dropped from $ 2.3 billion to $ 1 billion over the same period, it's clear that the money is no longer in download. If ever the market-aware entity Apple is, iTunes's days are numbered.

It's a little strange that people prefer to choose streaming streaming music, but unfortunately, the convenience is hard to deny. No more storage issues, no more rubbish shelves, no more limited access to music. It's all there at your beck and call. The library of Alexandria, right in your pocket.

iTunes is survived by the iPod, also near death

While it's interesting to note that iTunes is gone, the iPod is not, funny enough. But it also goes away. Here's the death of the iPod in a map:

An overview of the sales figures (units) for the year for the Apple iPod and Apple iPhone.

Apple has written off iPod sales statistics after 2014, and it's pretty clear why.

smartphonesAs it did or not, the MP3 player ate a category completely. Once the iPhone was released in 2007. The sales of the iPod have started to decline as the phone has demanded a standalone portable music player. And why not? It can play music over your headphones, and there was virtually no functional difference between the phone and the iPod Touch in terms of music usage. While Apple released a new iPod this year, it's clear it's probably not going anywhere.

Don't miss out

Now that the primary vehicle for iTunes usership is almost gone, its usefulness is left to the content platform. Like streaming services like Spotify, Google Play Music, and Amazon Prime Music Touching the scene with better user interfaces and sharing options, iTunes is finally on its way. In 2013, searching the door on iTunes, Apple bought Beats.

By then, people had scratched their heads at the revitalizing sales of the industry's most lucrative headphone company, but it made sense. If you don't want to see the entire video above, you should know that the sale wasn't for hardware. This was partly due to the fact that Beats & # 39; owned a streaming service called MOG which would eventually become Beats Music, the backbone for Apple. music.

Beats owns a streaming service called MOG which would eventually become Beats Music, the backbone for Apple Music.

By buying and changing a more mature $ 3 billion solution, Apple has cut a lot of development time and received a huge headline on the next dominant format in consumer sound before their former cash cow is completely dead. At the time, the iPod sales dropped to less than half of what they were at, while iPhone sales dropped sharply. Streaming investment was the right call and leads us to this day. Remember when I said that Apple is more like a financial firm than a technology company? Yes, that's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

So what's next?

We can't tell if streaming will continue to grow, but I have to point out that digital files have not yet died. In fact, they live a lot in the same kind of communities that MySpace has made a haven for musicians. SoundCloud, Bandcamp and other services have opened the door to many self-published artists to earn their tracks, even though many people will also be streaming their music. In addition, other formats such as vinyl and cassettes make an unexpected (but very very small) return.

with 5G On the horizon, it's not crazy to assume that streaming will remain the dominant format for music consumption for a long time, especially as increased data transfer rates will make buffers and quality loss much less likely. Container files will change, services will grow and die, and even broadcast standards will change as time goes on. However, it seems to me the format wars have long died: entries are here to stay for the near future.

following: New Apple AirPods review: Are they better?

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