Apple Retires iTunes, Creates Separate Music, TV, Podcast Apps on macOS

Apple iTunes’ reign as a music industry game-changer is over. At its annual WWDC developers conference, Apple announced it is retiring iTunes and breaking it up into three separate macOS apps called Music, TV and Podcasts.

The update will come with macOS 10.15, Apple’s next-generation operating system being previewed at the conference and expected to be released this fall.

The new standalone apps unveiled at the WWCD feature colorful sidebars and clear menus for easier navigation compared to iTunes, which by all accounts had grown noticeably aged. The Music app is singularly focused on music and offers personalized recommendations. It will allow macOS users access to their entire libraries of music regardless of whether the tracks have been downloaded via streaming.

The Podcasts app is dedicated to the podcast listening experience.

The TV app will include Apple’s exclusive content along with other providers’ shows, including Showtime and HBO. It supports 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.

iTunes launched in 2001 and its music store launched two years later, changing the way people buy songs and albums. It came at a time the music business struggled with online piracy and file-sharing sites. With an intuitive user interface, a simple billing tool and an on-demand catalog, iTunes excelled over every other platform in its time.

Table: Apple iTunes Timeline

2000Apple purchases SoundJam MP, renames it iTunes
2001Apple releases first version of iTunes on January 9
2003Apple Introduces the iTunes Music Store; customers buy more than one million songs in the first week
2004Apple expands iTunes outside of the U.S. to the U.K., France and Germany
2005Apple expands iTunes features including video support and native mobile apps for its iOS operating system
2008Apple introduces iTunes playlist generation and music recommendation system
2011Apple introduces “iTunes in the Cloud” to store purchases on Apple servers
2012iTunes generates an estimated $4.1 billion in revenue for Apple
2013iTunes turns 10 years old
2015Apple introduces Apple Music

Announcement Cements Apple’s Services Direction

iTunes’ strategy has been closely aligned with Apple’s devices business, but the rise of subscription content and services was a clear signal among Apple watchers that iTunes’ days were numbered.

While Apple Music and Apple TV apps will still allow consumers to buy and download media, their main function is providing access to streaming subscriptions like Apple Music and Apple TV+, the company’s forthcoming TV services.

“Apple had to put the pieces in place to make it all happen,” said Ramon Llamas of IDC Research. “If you look at consumer behavior in which users are willing to pay a regular fee for unlimited content — and that’s what they can get from other services such as Spotify, Pandora and Netflix — Apple is smartly aligning itself against those competitors with its own approach.”

macOS 10.15 (Catalina): What to Know

  • macOS Catalina is the next major operating system update for Apple’s Mac computers
  • Part of the company’s initiative to unify the app-development process across devices running iOS (mobile) and macOS (desktop)
  • Makes it easier for developers for the iPhone and iPad App Store to release iOS applications on the Mac with less development time.