Ease of use is the hallmark of Apple, and the iTunes store, but the device-centric development teams over at 1 Infinite Loop have created an iTunes problem for Apple addicts who own a lot of different gizmos that the company has yet to fix.
Let's say you're a HUGE Apple product fan. You have an iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, and even an Apple TV. All of these devices have access to the Apple Store via iTunes.
I'm a 24 addict, but I hate to wait. I loved the box sets, because I could get my adrenaline rush for as long as I wanted without waiting for Sunday to roll around. The boxes were expensive and cumbersome, though, because I was dealing with the physical discs.
I can download the digital "box" from the iTunes store much cheaper, and it is far easier to use, than the DVDs.
That's a lot of files though. Big ones that take time to download over even the best internet connections.
I want them on my iPad, so I buy the season from there. Within a few clicks I have paid for it and it starts downloading. Now, an hour or so later, I put my iPad away and pick up my laptop. I get subscriptions to podcasts on my laptop, so I launch iTunes to get them loaded on to the computer.
All of a sudden, my remaining 24 episodes are now headed to my laptop. I stop them, because I caught it, but otherwise they would be on my computer, not my iPad.
Later in the evening, I'm trying to rent a movie on Apple TV. I log in to the iTunes store and watch the movie. While I'm watching, you guessed it: Three of my 24 episodes download to the Apple TV.
For folks with multiple devices, the iTunes store can be a huge pain. Downloadable content can end up in a variety of devices, and has to be moved around using the iTunes application on the computer, which is slow and inconvenient.
The iTunes support staffer at Apple with whom I spoke was helpful, and suggested that I make sure that I leave the device on and download all of the TV season before I move on. That's great, except that it makes my laptop a prisoner of my iPad for anywhere up to eight hours, depending on whether I'm doing HD video and whether my Florida AT&T connection gears up the web hamsters to deliver download speeds faster than a glacier moves.
The solution is really simple, and elegant, but amazingly Apple hasn't seen this as much of a problem worthy of some priority.
They have a screen that nags you about making an online purchase. How hard is it to dream up a screen that asks if I want the whole season of this box set downloaded to this specific device. Or hey! How about letting me BUY a movie on my iPad and tell iTunes store that I want it delivered to my Apple TV.
Now how cool would that be?
iTunes has been falling down on the job with the release of video and book content as well. You can only buy spotty seasons of Law & Order - SVU, for example, even though they allegedly have a deal to sell the series and the box sets are commonly available at stores and online.
The movie search system on iTunes, and on Apple TV is cumbersome, and there are still a lot of older titles it would be great to see on there that aren't available.
The iPad has apps that cover Kindle and Barnes & Noble's NOOK systems. While the format of their own iBook content is vastly superior to the other two, with color images in the text not being the least of its advantages, the cupboard is full of public-domain titles but woefully behind Amazon's Kindle in available content.
As they said in Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come..." Once they get there, though, dear Apple engineers, you need to provide a lot more relevant, high quality content that caters to the strength of your forest of products, not just plays to the trees of this nifty device or that.
My shiny two.