Shhh... Don't Tell Apple But iTunes Is Doomed

By Adam L. Penenberg , written on September 12, 2012

From The News Desk

At its iPhone-a-palooza today Apple announced that it's upgrading iTunes. It'll be more mobile friendly, and the store will be, oh, I don't know, more store-like? There will be Facebook integration, better search, and a bunch of other features that are supposed to enhance functionality.

But you know what?

I couldn't care less.

You'd think the fact that I own more than 15,000 songs — most of them ripped from compact discs at Apple Lossless levels, downloaded at 256kbs from the iTunes store, and recorded from vinyl on a digital turntable — would mean I'd be excited about a snazzier iTunes. But ever since I began subscribing to MOG, a subscription service (it calls itself an online community devoted to music) that streams songs at 320kbs for 10 bucks a month, I don't think I've bought a single song from iTunes.

The way I see it, this latest Apple upgrade is only a stop gap, because iTunes will soon die and with it the idea that you buy music for 99 cents or $1.29 a song. Sure, I used to think I wanted to own all this music — I have so much I store it on an external hard drive because it won't fit on my MacBook Air. But really, I don't. From my iPod Touch into my Peachtree amp with built-in digital audio converter, the music sounds identical to the quality you get in CDs, whether it originates from iTunes or streamed from MOG, whose engineers worked wonders getting music to stream so quickly and glitch-free through the ether.

These songs are playable on all my Apple devices (the Web, too), and if I want to I can download the song and listen to it when I am out of reach of Wi-fi or AT&T. The recommendation engine is very good — it has turned me on to a bunch of fringe jazz artists and albums I didn't know about — and the selection seems to me as extensive as Apple's and Amazon's. It's not radio like Pandora, which streams at a lower bit rate and results in inferior audio quality; MOG offers whole albums, although it gives you the option of listening to songs in a radio-like format. Now MOG isn't perfect. The interface could be better and sometimes I have to reboot my iPod Touch after it freezes or coughs up a digital hairball. But I suspect the service will improve over time. Anyway, if you aren't familiar with MOG, ask an audiophile friend. He or she has heard of it.

Now, rumors abound of Apple talking to record labels about creating a music streaming service. Some think it could be a Pandora killer. Selfishly, though, the only thing I worry about is that Apple suddenly realize there's an iTunes killer hiding on my Apple devices and decides to ban MOG from its iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

Apple wouldn't do that, would it?