September 09, 2009

Why do you want a 64-bit iTunes?

Prior to today’s Apple announcements, John Gruber wondered aloud on Daring Fireball:

What I’m interested in is more esoteric: is the Mac version [of iTunes] still a 32-bit Carbon app? Common sense says yes, but that’s because common sense says it’s never a good time for a low-level framework rewrite. But the writing is on the wall: the future is 64-bit, and the only path to 64-bit is Cocoa, so eventually, it has to happen.

Let me be really clear: I think Cocoa is great. I think 64-bit is great. (We’re embracing both with Photoshop.) But I’m really, genuinely curious: What specifically do people believe a transition to either is going to add to their software? In the case of iTunes, I have to ask:

  • Do people really have performance problems* with iTunes as it is?
    • I never have. It filters my 3,000-item library as fast as I can type, does a lovely job with HD video, and whips through album art in Cover Flow. I can’t recall others complaining, either.
  • Do they want iTunes to use more than 4GB of RAM?
    • I think we can safely say “No.”
  • Do they complain about the UI (e.g. non-standard scrollbars) and think that Cocoa will make iTunes more “Mac-like”?

So what, then? Let me put it another way: If you were directing the iTunes team’s efforts, why would you–as a customer–tell them to spend their time on Cocoa and/or 64-bit, at the expense of doing other things customers want?

I don’t know why I feel compelled to scratch this itch. See, a smarter, lazier, and/or more cynical product manager than I would simply kick back, shut up, and say, “Photoshop CS-X is 64-bit and based on Cocoa, so you should buy it!” If anyone dared ask how these facts might benefit her, I’d just loudly repeat, “But it’s COCOA! and 64-BIT! So that’s, like, AUTOMATICALLY AWESOME!”

For better or worse, that’s not how I roll. I want people to buy my (and our) work based on real value, not due to lack of information. I suppose I can take some weird solace in the fact that no matter what I say, many people will go on happily believing whatever they want.

So, out of honest curiosity I ask: If you’re pining for iTunes 64, why (specifically)?

*Not, of course, that 64-bit is any kind of panacea.

Posted by John Nack at 9:53 PM on September 09, 2009
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