Feature Creep

iTunes 11 is a disaster. If Steve Jobs were still alive it wouldn’t have happened, and if it had, someone would have been fired.

They took a program which did what it was supposed to, manage your music and allow you to shop in the iTunes Store, and added so many features as to make it unusable.

Let’s start with the search. Instead of getting the tracks in your library, you’re proffered choices. And navigating to your selection is slow and it used to be you just searched and what you were looking for was in the window. But no, they had to IMPROVE IT!

And once you’ve got your selection, you’ve got a flippy triangle that gives you choices, always a different number, as many as nine! All I want to do is play a track! And this is my business. Is listening to music the business of anyone at Apple?

The company blinked. It endured hated for so long it upgraded a program that worked fine to begin with. They pushed it over the edge. They turned it into Microsoft Word, something with so many features it’s damn near unusable.

Steve Jobs famously said on his deathbed not to run the company like Disney, where the enterprise was paralyzed by asking “What would Walt do?” But to abandon one of Jobs’ core principles is headscratching. Usability always came first! You needed no training, no manual, everything just worked and you could employ it intuitively.

Not iTunes 11.

Only the haters bitch. If you listen to the haters, you’re screwed.

Were the hoi polloi complaining? No, iTunes was their default, the go-to item.

It’s only the blowhards and “power-users” who complained about iTunes.

If something’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Most of your user base, most of your fans, won’t complain unless you screw up. They’re satisfied. We see this time and again in the logo world. Some idiot at the company decides to modernize and comes up with a new logo they like, the hipsters like, but the mainstream users hate! Most recently with the University of California. I didn’t attend, but anybody, including myself, could see the new logo didn’t have the same gravitas. You put in four years (maybe more) and you end up with a trendy seal? For something that takes this investment you want an imprimatur of tradition. Hell, my college diploma is in Latin, I can’t read it, but I know it’s serious!

And this is especially true in music.

DON’T LISTEN TO THE CRITICS TELLING YOU TO CHANGE!

It’s one thing if you’re convinced you’re on the wrong path, if you’ve got questions. But if you think you’re doing it right, stay the course, don’t listen to idiots telling you to change willy-nilly, even if you haven’t gotten commercial traction yet. Change the sound and you’ll alienate those who are already on board. Kind of like Gabe Dixon. He put out one of my favorite albums of the century, 2008’s “The Gabe Dixon Band,” then he followed it up with a slick concoction I can’t even listen to. He should have just stayed the course, waited for people to catch up, he had it right!

Kind of like the iPhone 5.

Do you find the rank and file, those getting an Android for free, bitching that the iPhone 5 doesn’t have the latest and greatest features? No, you only hear from the bleeding edge, people who upgrade their phones sometimes twice a year, that the iPhone 5 doesn’t have this or that. But these are always features used by almost nobody. They’re cool, but do they belong in a phone? Hell, most of these phones are hard enough to use to begin with, to get more than e-mail, texts and calls out of. Simplicity is a virtue. In addition to a huge curated app store, what makes the iPhone 5 great is the easy upgradability and the answers to your questions, never mind the raw usability.

Sure, Apple was first with the tablet, then again that’s not really true, the company made the first USABLE tablet.

And even Palm made a “touch” smartphone previously.

As for the iPod, it was just a refinement of what already existed, albeit with high speed transfer.

You don’t always have to lead.

But you do have to get it right.

And Apple got it wrong with iTunes 11.

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  1. Pingback by Barbarism.net: Am I Searching Or Filtering? | 2013/01/10 at 13:24:50

    [...] Even Bob Lefsetz hates iTunes 11: [...]

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