We here at TUAW, and those of you who read us and a dozen other Apple or tech blogs each day were certainly amped about a full-page takeover on Apple.com yesterday. We were subsequently a bit let down when the veil lifted to reveal... The Beatles on iTunes.
Keep in mind Twitter + Ping happened via press release -- a Facebook + Ping update could also have happened inside iTunes without an update to iTunes itself, and likewise just merit a press release without so much hoopla. So why did we expect more?
It's a classic case of what we do when we see a tease from Apple. We expect a unicorn to emerge, bathed in the light of the Apple logo, being led by Steve Jobs carrying a bucket of golden oats. Further, we expect this unicorn to fulfill our every whim, our every desire, be easy to use and be hated by a faction who just likes to hate anything Apple does.
Oh, and we know they'll just trot out a new unicorn next year, one you can get in seven colors, but we don't care -- we want this new, shiny unicorn NOW and if we don't get what we expect, we are terribly let down.
But guess what? If you do read TUAW and a dozen other tech sites every day, and you've been reading about Apple for at least the past 10 years, you should have known better. Here are the reasons why.
- Having The Beatles on iTunes is a big deal for people who love music. Particularly baby boomers, who (anecdotal evidence, I know) I see in the Apple Store a lot. Older folks as well. And younger. But my point is that baby boomers are a key market for Apple. They don't want to be burdened with "tech stuff" -- they just want tech to work. Having The Beatles in iTunes is important to them. Now they don't have to rip CDs! Although I agree with Michael that a branded iPod would have been cool. The Beatles may not be important to younger generations, but they are massively important to rock history. Deal with it, whippersnappers.
- Anything bigger than the Beatles would have involved Steve Jobs. Wireless sync, cloud-based iTunes, all of this smacks of a Stevenote; either a big music event or a simple Apple campus town hall press event thing we wouldn't get invited to if we were the last Apple blog on Earth. Trust me, when iTunes hits the cloud, Steve Jobs will be there to tell you how awesomely magical it is and how your music is "just there" for you. "Boom" and so forth.
- I tend to think a music locker would be tied to MobileMe, but that's a guess. I know everyone wants this, and I feel certain Apple is working on it. But as AllThingsD noted, it requires negotiations with the music labels. Apple would likely want to make sure any iTunes content you bought is available via streaming on your iPhone, iPad, etc. Why do they want to get this done? Because the less music you have to store locally on your iPhone, iPad or even MacBook Air, the more room you have for apps. While music is important to Apple, apps are even more important. They show off the Apple platform, not just one aspect of it.
So there you go. Don't go getting your hopes up because what you want to see doesn't appear when Apple changes the home page. Apple, like the Cylons, has a plan. I have no doubt many of the awesome speculative features we've been dreaming about for years will appear in due time.
Remember when the iPod didn't play video? Or use USB? Or remember when Macs didn't even include CD burners? Apple, to used a tired phrase, moves in mysterious ways. But if you stop and think about it, it doesn't. The company moves quite methodically. Yes, sometimes we get surprised. No, Apple isn't going to announce magical things over iTunes. Never forget that Apple holds a physical meeting when it's time to announce Big Things. In the final analysis, as so many people have sadly Tweeted, commented and messaged, this was not that big.