Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is Apple Planning on Merging iTunes and Safari?

Apple may be preparing a massive move that will propel Safari from niche browser to market leader. The move to merge Safari and iTunes into one software solution appears long in the works, which may arrive this fall at Apple's usual iPod special event.
Apple acquired the streaming music services company, lala, for $80 million in December 2009. The purported purposes for such an acquisition was for Apple to spearhead the way towards taking iTunes towards an online service, accessible via any browser, and away from a desktop software solution. That may no longer be the case.

iTunes now appears to be staying put as a desktop application. Despite Amazon's (and others) best online efforts to derail iTunes, the software and its sales continue to outpace the competition as a media content platform. As long as iOS devices continue to proliferate so to will iTunes.
In April 2003 Apple launched the iTunes Store within iTunes software. The integration of the iTunes Store transformed iTunes into a WebKit browser that organized and stored media files. Currently, this browsing experience is strictly tied to Apple's secure iTunes content, however, Apple integrating the iTunes software into the Safari browser changes the entire landscape.

While iTunes has been continuing its march, Safari's growth has been minimal. Safari claimed just 4.46% of browser market share in December 2010, yet Google's Chrome browser eclipsed Safari in December and has seen rapid growth since its launch. Safari's weak market position allows for Google to make bold moves, as evidenced by their recent discontinuation of h.264 support within their Chrome browser in favor of its WebM video codec. While this isn't a direct affront to iTunes or Safari, it is an attempt to further alienate the iOS platform, which also damages Safari.

It is believed that Safari will be the only browser able to access iTunes, as iTunes is built into the browser itself. "Moving iTunes organizational side-bar into Safari isn't a monumental task" claimed a source, adding "Safari would skyrocket in use as a result of integrating the software titles together."