We had a good thing going — and I sincerely thought that you felt for me with the same undying love that I felt for you. It’s taken me a couple of years since we stopped seeing each other exclusively for me to cut through the haze of denial. But now I see the truth. You don’t feel for me the same as I felt for you. It’s OK, Apple. I realize, now that it’s time for me to start seeing other digital music players.
Fifteen or so years ago, in addition to being THE way to playback and organize my MP3s, iTunes served as a gateway for the iPod. My first was the third-generation, white and silver 15 gig iPod. And, just like that, my music was everywhere with me.
You have to understand that in the early ’00s, this was a rare and new phenomenon. Most of us were either jamming out to mix tapes or, if we were truly on the edge, were able to make a mix CD full of MP3s. But the idea of carrying around a music library with you, well, that was pretty shagadelic, if I may dust off a catchphrase of the era. Especially if you were a music lover. And I was certainly a music lover.
So along comes the landmark iTunes music store, offering a cheap alternative to Napster and other file-sharing sites of the era of questionable virtue. Now we can buy new, cool music legitimately. Of course, Apple really didn’t make money off that. But the store was a pretty cool way to drum up sales of iPods. And it worked too, especially after it was made compatible with Windows PCs.
Apple made being a music geek incredibly cool with a slick advertising campaign, and it seemed that earbuds began springing out of nearly everyone’s head.
So how did we come to this?
Personally, I blame the iPhone, its bastard offspring the iPod Touch, and the touchscreen interface. Because now you can do so much more — watch video, play a stupid games and post pics of every meal you’ve ever eaten to Instagram — on your portable device. Apple had a lot more gateways to its devices than just a stupid ol’ music player.
I also blame the rise of streaming services, which has skyrocketed in popularity as paid music downloads are going the way of CD sales.
Today, Apple’s music app is less about having a decent way to organize, play and shuffle all of your music. It’s now become dominated by ways to stream, buy and share.
With every iPod/iPhone update (and good lord there are a lot of them), the straight-up interface for playing music that resembled your dad’s hifi rack stereo components became more and more distant.
Apple’s music app doesn’t know what it is, and iTunes itself has morphed into some unholy media hub that’s less a digital jukebox and more of a “Game of Thrones” injection system.
Sadly, there are few alternatives to iTunes and the Music app, although Ecoute is a cheap alternative and as my primary music player on my iPhone, and I’ll likely start experimenting with I’m looking at Swinsian.
My new hope is to find my old monochrome iPod—the one that was built around music.
Until then, Apple, I’ll treasure our memories. I hope you find everything you’re looking for.