What would it be like if iTunes were a Web app, powered solely through one browser? That's the concept beating around the Net today as a very iffy rumor from a not-so credible source suggests that Apple aims to bolster its Web browser presence by integrating iTunes into Safari.
But it won't happen. Doing so would be a bad move by Apple -- both from a practical and a business perspective.
The rumor's source, a blog called Three Guys and a Podcast, claims that Apple will unveil a browser-based version of iTunes at the August 2011 iPod event, but instead of opting for universal accessibility, the company wants to make it Safari-only.
Putting iTunes in the cloud is not a new idea; it's been discussed for years. The twist reported by Three Guys and a Podcast is that Apple is dissatisfied with its low status in the Web browser market and wants to catapult Safari from niche to necessity by brute force.
Here are two big reasons Safari + iTunes doesn't make sense.
iTunes is too bloated
iTunes is a robust desktop app. Some even call it too riddled with bloatware to be effective. To integrate Safari and iTunes, Apple would have to dismantle the bells and whistles it has spent years plugging into iTunes, thus reducing it to a cheap-looking and -operating knockoff rather than a glossy Cupertino affair. Apple likes minimalism, but only to the extent that it's functional.
Similarly, Apple's efforts to add buckets of gloss to Safari would be grossly undermined by a chunky sidebar. It would dominate screen space, it might increase page-load time, and should your Internet connection cut out, you'll be left helplessly in silence.
Browser market share really isn't that important -- and neither is Safari
Safari + iTunes would certainly boost Apple's browser market share and would contribute to the company's ideology of a fully integrated, Apple-only experience. But who really cares about Safari?
Apple is a hardware company -- an influential and powerful manufacturer of laptops, desktops, tablets, MP3 players, phones, streaming television boxes, and more. Safari is just a Web browser, not a money-minting machine. Apple will continue to focus its energies on building solid, lusty products, and keep its attentions on Safari limited to someone who reads only the Sunday paper -- it's an experience, but not a weeklong affair.
Maybe iTunes in the cloud will finally be announced during Apple's summer music event, or maybe it won't. Either way, it's absurd to posit that the app's next iteration will be a human centipede with Safari.