12/09/2008

Where did Apple go wrong with IMS?


It's an accepted fact the world over that Apple has produced some of the most well thought out and innovative design of our time. Their products have changed modern culture, their packaging has brought in extensive awards and their advertising has been often been referred to as some of the best ever made. Looking at osX, the ipod and the new iphone it's clear that interface design has always followed the same high standards. The fact that everything Apple produces is so easy to use forms the corner stone of their brand.

With all this in mind I can't help but ask what the hell is going on with Itunes Music Store? - what a mess. Have you ever tried to browse around for something new? It's a nightmare. There seems very little to do other than search for a track or artist you've already heard of. The benefit of Apple's design approach is that they can take complex items and make them very simple and intuitive. This is not the case with the Music Store, in fact it's quite the opposite.

As an example i tried to find a Gorillaz track without using the search panel. You start by trying to guess which genre the IMS team have decided to place it under
It's hard to imagine how someone else would classify each track or artist. The interface changes dramatically as soon as you leave the homepage and you know have to dig further through a dizzying list of subgenre which ranges from 'German Thrash' to 'Post war chamber music'. Once you've guessed your way through to find the artist you can select from their material.

Again the interface jumps to a new set of interactions once you've found the artist. Sometimes this fits perfectly in to your itunes app window, but often it will require scrolling in more than one direction.

Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. There are some nice features. The recommended listening is often very good and some of the playlists are interesting ways to find new music.

My biggest problems is that it is way below Apple's usual standards. It makes the process of using an the Apple OS, hooking up your ipod and working with great interfaces have a stinky end.

There is very little information out there as to what Apple's design process involves. They seem to guard their secrecy very closely. So it's hard to say how this got through the quality control and how they see it expanding in to the future.

Is it me? Does anyone else feel like the Itunes Music Store is the weakest link in Apple offering?