For all its innovative designs, Apple
According to Bloomberg News, the Mac maker is planning a massive overhaul of the service. Planned features include using iCloud to better synchronize downloaded entertainment across a number of devices and more tools for sharing music.
We'll know the details when Apple is ready to announce them. In the meantime, let's take a look at what iTunes isn't and what it could be.
Synchronicity: more than just an album from The Police
Apple's ecosystem isn't nearly as elastic as those of its partners and rivals because everything is downloaded. Thus, if you start a purchased movie on your iPad and then switch to your Apple TV, you'll have to start the watching experience over again. Each device manages content independently.
Rentals are where this problem comes into sharp relief. Say you purchase a 24-hour rental of Oscar-winning flick The Artist from your Mac. Because you're downloading a file, you're tied to that device for your rental. Netflix
Spying on Spotify
Synchronicity is important, but it's also one of two major issues Bloomberg says Apple will address in the next version of iTunes. The new store and related apps are going to be more social.
To be fair, Apple has tried this before with the failed music network Ping. What would be different this time? My guess is the Mac maker would channel features that make Spotify popular.
If you've yet to try it, Spotify is an app that aggregates music your own and music you can stream into a single player. You can also share a single track with a friend or broadcast your current playlist. Because of its social proclivities, Facebook
Apple, too, has increased engagement with both Twitter and Facebook, which makes social sharing of playlists a likely option in the new iTunes. Apps might also make the service more compelling. Right now, Spotify includes TuneWiki for syncing lyrics with tracks, Rolling Stone Recommends for access to the top choices from the legendary magazine, and Tastebuds for meeting people who share your listening interests, among others. Spotify is using music to create a social hub -- an opportunity iTunes has largely ignored outside of its meager efforts with Ping.
Breaking bad rules
And those are just two areas where iTunes needs help. There's also the prospect of transforming the service into a digital wallet that challenges Google and eBay. What else did I miss? Which businesses did I miss? Or, conversely, do you expect Apple to simply tinker with iTunes and move on to bigger projects?
Either way, it pays attention to study potential shifts since, over time, the market rewards those that lead the rebellions.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple, Google, and Netflix at the time of publication. He also had a long-term call position in Netflix. Check out Tim's Web home, portfolio holdings, and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.
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