The Failed Design of Apple Music

John Gruber on Apple Music as a failure of product design:


"Maybe there’s a way to design “all your music in one app” that is completely clear, convenient, and obvious. But the bottom line is that a music app shouldn’t be confusing. I think that’s held Apple Music back.

...Last year’s Apple Music announcement in the WWDC keynote was the worst segment in an Apple keynote in modern history. It was rambling, awkward, left important questions unanswered, and went on way too long...

...Coherence in product design leads to coherence in product marketing. And vice versa: incoherence in product design leads to incoherence in product marketing. If the product isn’t logical and consistent throughout, how can it be marketed in a logical and consistent way? That’s what we saw with Apple Music last year, and the meandering music segment of the WWDC keynote exemplified it."


Apple’s last big venture into music distribution, iTunes, which is still a strong business today, was successful mainly because it offered a solution to a problem the industry was being plagued by: pirating software like Napster. Today, Apple Music doesn’t offer any definitive solution to any problem, neither for the user nor for music labels. Spotify is also perfectly serviceable and it didn’t take long for them to make up for the things Apple Music had which its own service lacked, mainly human curation.

One problem that comes to mind that could be solved is the impermanence of music libraries. One way or another, Apple users have complained about either music being deleted accidentally by software or songs, sometimes entire discographies, being made unavailable for purchase or download altogether. Maybe labels and Apple can come to some kind of agreement to not let nagging IP policies be the cause of music being deleted from existing libraries by any means, even if made unavailable for further purchase. Permanent download links, perhaps through iTunes, could be made available to users affected by the retraction of copyright-protected music by labels.

It’s a compromise solution with minimal inconvenience for users.