Last week, Apple released its long overdue upgrade to its e-commerce stalwart, iTunes. But as good as the update is in my opinion, does it matter?
I used to purchase my songs, and the occasional album, from the iTunes store. The fidelity wasn’t as good as a CD but iTunes made for the perfect impulse buy experience. Not only didn’t I have to drive to the store but I didn’t have to rise from my sofa.
Pandora was out there, sure. But that was more for discovering new music than locating a particular song that I wanted listen to over and over again. But, now that’s all changed.
Thanks to Spotify and hdtracks.com, all my bases are pretty much covered. With Spotify, I no longer have to impulse by every song that I hear on Letterman or Fallon. I can ‘star’ it in my Spotify Premium account. If not there, I can then turn to iTunes.
But you have to pay for a Spotify Premium account! Yes, true. Ten dollars monthly. But I was spending around $20 per month at the iTunes store to purchase the same tracks.
And with hdtracks.com, the home of uncompressed audio, I can by albums (and a few tracks) of audiophile quality. Some older material, but more and more artists are releasing their new material here, as well as on vinyl and CD. Does it cost more? Of course. These recordings are the audio equivalent of a Lamborghini.
Why pay for the whole season of every program that you want to watch? At only $8.00US per month, HULU Plus is my personal DVR. And I don’t have to remember to set my TiVo every time that I want to watch an episode of my favorite series. Don’t even have to worry about filling up the hard drive.
If you look at iTunes, not only am I filling up the hard drive but I’m spending tons of cash.
And, if you look down the road, both HULUPlus and Netflix are beginning to enter the content creation business. And they’ll never share their in-house generated programming with Apple as it differentiates their services.
Again, there are other cheaper alternatives. Netflix is the current champion. And for videophiles, HULUPlus has the much acclaimed Criterion collection. Plus, signup with either service, you can access your media from your mobile devices and set-top boxes (including AppleTV).
So where does iTunes fit in?
Ten years ago, Apple was the 800 pound gorilla as far as digital music shopping. But now there are different options at various price points.
Currently, I see iTunes as a worthy competitor in the eBook and eZine market. But how long that will last only time will tell. There greatest attribute at this point is iTunesU. But here to, how long that will last only time will tell.
So, is there a future for iTunes? Only so long as all of your purchases work seamlessly across all of your devices right out of the gate. When that ceases to be the case, then it’s back to the drawing board.