Panic as Apple shuts down iTunes
"What happens to my music library?"
It's the question on the lips of many who adopted iTunes in the early 2000s and invested heavily in the platform assuming, perhaps naively, that it would always be there.
Social media erupted when the news broke on Saturday that iTunes is soon to be no more.
There was plenty of concern for playlists and music and movies downloaded over almost 20 years, but Apple won't let those personal back catalogues disappear - they'll be moving them over to a trio of new apps.
Most of the reaction was from users nostalgic about the end of an era for technology that relegated CDs to the draw that never gets opened in the TV unit and ushered in the iPod.
Bloomberg reports the end of iTunes is the company's response to the ways in which Apple users now engage with media.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to explain how the new apps for Mac - Music, TV and Podcasts - will replace users' existing libraries at a keynote presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in California on Monday (Tuesday morning in Australia).
The news that iTunes is being superseded has been welcomed by experts who say the tool - described as "clunky" in some reports - was in dire need of a makeover.
Technology and Telco editor at Finder, Alex Kidman, told news.com.au he was anything but surprised when he heard the news.
"Not surprising in the least - it's been rumoured for some time that Apple would go down this path," he said.
"If you look at what it's done on the iPhone, it's been weaning users away from thinking in terms of setting up the phone or syncing tracks or content via iTunes to getting it from iCloud and the App Store.
"With the shift to iOS apps running on MacOS, and the way that Apple's already split content out there into apps for music, podcasts and the like, iTunes' days were numbered."
He said iTunes had become a "bloated mess" and needed to be moved on some time ago.
"iTunes as an app, whether you're on a Mac or a PC … was trying to serve too many needs at once."
While Apple hasn't revealed exactly how it will merge content previously stored in iTunes libraries, Mr Kidman said users shouldn't be concerned.
"That's data that Apple already makes available to your existing iOS devices, and there's no real reason to think that it won't take this approach with split apps under MacOS.
"If you've got content purchased through Apple, it'll still be on record with them and should be accessible on compatible devices.
"For PC users, we'll have to wait and see what Apple's replacements will be, but again, it's not like Apple wants to lose consumers who have Apple Music subscriptions, or those who buy or rent movies or TV shows through Apple. That's still a lucrative revenue source for them."
If iTunes is shutting down, when can I expect that refund check for all the music I’ve purchased over the past 20 years?— Sam Richardson (@SamRichardson) June 1, 2019
Just read an article that said iTunes might be going away. Apple is now the leader in music downloads over Spotify and all the rest. I was just getting over the demise of the CD. The digital revolution is real.— Rodney Saulsberry (@rodtalks) June 2, 2019
There is, of course, at least one question yet to be answered. How will iPhone and iPod owners handle backups if they're not using iCloud.
"Right now, you can do this via iTunes on a PC or Mac, although it's not Apple's preferred solution," Mr Kidman said.
"With no iTunes, it's not exactly clear how owners of older iOS devices that may need to refresh them will handle this."
The nostalgia for iTunes is palpable. For those who grew up with the technology, it feels like yesterday that Apple launched the iTunes store.
Then-CEO Steve Jobs said in 2003 that it was "revolutionary".
"The iTunes Music Store offers the revolutionary rights to burn an unlimited number of CDs for personal use and to put music on an unlimited number of iPods for on-the-go listening," he said in an Apple Newsroom press release.
"Consumers don't want to be treated like criminals and artists don't want their valuable work stolen. The iTunes Music Store offers a groundbreaking solution for both."
But just like that, it's been shown the door. In a not-so-subtle signal of its intentions, Apple removed all content from its official iTunes accounts on Facebook and Instagram.
Tomorrow's conference won't only discuss iTunes. According to Bloomberg, it will also focus on Apple's new generation of devices, including Apple Watches "that are more independent from iPhones and a push to make iPad's a legitimate replacement for laptops.
New apps will also be floated as well as tweaks to Maps, Messages and Apple Books.