Apple’s iTunes Music Store branding dilemma 14 Oct 2005

46 comments Latest by Jonas

Now that the iTunes Music Store sells TV shows and short movie clips, what do they do with the name? iTunes Music Store for TV Shows and ultimately movies? And then there’s the thing with the iTunes software itself — would you think about using something called iTunes to watch a TV show? Clearly music is 99% of the store right now, but moving forward does Apple eventually break the store into 2 stores (music and video), or do they keep the iTunes Music Store umbrella? Does the name even matter at this point? If Apple doesn’t open up their DRM to other devices they might as well call it the iPod Entertainment Store. I think we’re seeing some “let’s figure it out as we go along” from Apple right now (although naming the device an agnostic “iPod” was a prescient move).

46 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Mark 14 Oct 05

Aren’t they selling the soundtracks to the movies and tv shows as well? It seems I remember the offer to buy the associated soundtracks is right there with the information on the video pages. The Pixar shorts page is an example.

Dan Boland 14 Oct 05

I think the branding issue really started (sort of) with the iPod Photo. I remember thinking “why doesn’t the iPod work with iPhoto for its pictures instead of iTunes?”

I think video sales will dictate whether there is a split or not. But even if video sales are through the roof and surpass music sales, I can’t imagine Apple would be excited with the thought of splitting things apart for the sake of clarity.

What I’m more interested in is whether or not Apple will put the iTMS on the web in website form, meaning can run in Safari/Firefox/whatever instead of within the iTunes app. I still think that arrangement is weird every time I go into it.

DaleV 14 Oct 05

I think at this point your last comment is the most important. I remember all the blazing online discussions: “Why didn’t they call it the iJam?! Or iRock?! or something OTHER than iPod.”

Now it just floats off the tongue and into ubiquity.

As for ‘iTunes’ and the music store specifically, I think when they decide to pull the trigger with movies, or maybe even when the TV scene becomes more complete with all networks and HBO, etc. on board, they will roll all of the iTMS functionality into a similar, but more robust package … possibly not unlike the “Front Row” system, but with more utility, instant purchasing, and (YIKES) a bigger (tho still simple) remote.

Darrel 14 Oct 05

Doesn’t seem to be any branding problem. Everyone knows what apple is and does. The product name really isn’t important in describing the services apple offers.

Jesse 14 Oct 05

iTunes Music Store => iTMS => iTunes Media Store

Dan Boland 14 Oct 05

iTunes Music Store => iTMS => iTunes Media Store

Well, that answers that question. =)

I was actually going to say this earlier… when you say iTunes, people think of the store and not the application. So it almost doesn’t matter what the name of the store is

Mark 14 Oct 05

Of course, all the really have to do is drop “music” from the name. iTunes works for music, movies, tv…whatever

Tune in.

McKormick 14 Oct 05

Or they could pull a New Kids on the Block trick who became NKOTB and call it iTMS can change the letters to mean Theatre, Music and Something else. That would be funny.

Anonymous Coward 14 Oct 05

A little off topic.. but did anyone think about the “Porncasting” capabilities of this?

Anonymous Coward 14 Oct 05

MTV is anything but “music television” and it seems to work out for them. If MTV changes to “The Mostly Reality Television But Occasionally Music-related News And/Or Gossip Channel” I could see the impetus for Apple to change iTunes to iPod Store or something like that.

An aside, I’ve found it very interesting lately to think about video and emerging platforms. 12 years ago one could deliver 160 x 120 or 240 x 180 video via 2x CD. Things got faster, MPEG came around, and pretty soon fullscreen video was a reality. Then the platform was largely, although not completely, abandoned, for the Net. And we were back to 240 x 180 or 320 x 240 video. And that’s gotten better and better. And here we are, finally, with the video iPod- the pinnacle of modern technology- watching grainy video at whatever tiny resolution an iPod runs. Oi vei!

Gianni D 14 Oct 05

Simple is better:

iTunes Store

Plain and simple

Jamison 14 Oct 05

I don’t see why Apple need rename their store, I walk by “Tower Records” and “Streetlight Records” stores, both of which carry very little in the way of vinyl. Likewise, there are a quite a few “record companies” out there that never saw the need to change their name to “cd companies.” I think most people will just see “music store” as shorthand for “media store” the way we all buy dvds from record stores without a second thought about the stores name.

Jason 14 Oct 05

I say iMedia (music, movies, TV, art and literature), and since it’s a video iPod, didn’t anyone think of calling it the eyePod.

Kyle 14 Oct 05

This was one of the first things on my mind when the made the announcement. I tend to fall in the camp that thinks they’ll keep it as iTMS. Though, I think iMedia Store might eventually work, but it still sounds a little odd.

Oh, and I love $1.99 TV shows. If enough channels get on board with the idea (I’m looking at you, Daily Show, HBO, and FoodNetwork), I could almost forgo cable television. It’s strange, I’ve never bought music from iTunes(and don’t plan too), but I love the idea of paying a small fee to watch TV on my laptop/ipod.

Dan Boland 14 Oct 05

Kyle: Channels like Food Network and DIY Network would really benefit from iTMS. Think about it, no one would go out and buy a box set of Good Eats, but I’m willing bet lots of people (especially those with laptops) would pay $2 for the episode where he makes insert recipe here.

As long as Rachael Ray shows aren’t for sale. She irks me big time.

Brian 14 Oct 05

Yeah, what Gianni said. It’s really not a dilemma.

indi 14 Oct 05

Hey! Be nice, Rachel Ray keeps it simple for me :-)

Kyle 14 Oct 05

@Dan: That’s a good point regarding the FoodNetwork shows. Especially info heavy short shows such as Good Eats, with the convenience of carrying your Ipod into the kitchen versus your laptop.

And now that I think about it, I think part of the appeal for of the $1.99 tv shows versus the $.99 songs is this: I watch very little TV, and am willing to pay 1.99 for a show, especially one that are more educational/newsy/comedy (my main view habits). Even better if they offer discounts for whole seasons.

However, my music interest far outstrips my my budget (realistically speaking), and prior to signing up for Real Rhapsody last year, I was buying about 200-250 CDs a year these last few years. Now that I’m on a Mac, though, iTunes is my only option, and in my opinion, and an uninteresting one at that. I really wish Apple would consider a subscription model, as I just can’t get behind the idea of paying 99 cents for an mp3.

I have at least a couple of friends who share similar music buying habits, and who have discovered Real Rhapsody and loved the experience. I really wish Apple would target us as a potential market.

PrescientIndeed 14 Oct 05

I don’t remember any conversations about why it was called iPod. Everyone I ever met in my entire life understood immediately that it was not an MP3 Player, but in fact a POD for lack of a better term, that happened to play music as a “starting point.”

As for the iTunes Music store selling video. The store will end up in Front Row, and Front Row will end up on stripped down Mac Minis under TVs. They are just trying to drive sales of the new iMac right now. Remember when the Photo features were only available on the highest end iPod? Notice how the Nano doesn’t support video? This is a bit like 37S’s choice to provide Time Tracking only on the high-end versions of Basecamp. Once the initial upgrade boost ends, and new features are in the pipeline, the shine will wear off their baby and we’ll all get time-tracking in our Personal and Basic accounts.

You people aren’t very visionary are you? Surprised by video on iPods? Questioning why it’s called an iPod in the first place? No concept of how they’ll get out of the iTunes Music Store selling video quandry? C’mon people, use your imaginations.

WowHowCreative 14 Oct 05

iMedia? I hope your day job doesn’t require you to be creative in ANY capacity.

iMedia rolls off tongue about as smoothly as pskfqutnvg.

Stop. Please stop. You are not naming Apple’s products. If you were responsible for naming Front Row it would probably be called iMedia too. Please, get a new idea, and then keep it to yourself.

Tumble 14 Oct 05

iGiveup, iHate iNames.

It’s not quite as bad as the rash of eNames we had for a while, but I’d like for us all to just move on.

Don Wilson 14 Oct 05

Break iTunes into 2 different stores? Highly unlikely.

Apple will come out, when they get the green to sell movies and such, and rename iTunes in a press conference to something sexy and designish, as Apple does all the time.

It’s justified why they didn’t do it two days ago because they barely have any videos, and the large majority of videos that they do have are ‘tunes’, so no need to change just yet.

But how cool would that be to be able to buy a movie off of iTunes for a buck or two; something you haven’t seen in 10 years? Goodbye Blockbuster/Netflix!

pwb 14 Oct 05

I would think it would make sense both from Apple’s and consumers’ perspectives for it to be a separate application. Music and Movies/TV are very different.

Alex Bunardzic 14 Oct 05

In Tarzan English, you may think “I tunes in to watch TV (or movie)”.

jw 14 Oct 05

Even if pskfqutnvg were to be the name of Apple’s next product, I am positive that people would line up to purchase it, and to discuss in online forums how it was a brilliant marketing move.

And I say this as someone who currently has three macs and a handful of iPods at my house.

Adam 14 Oct 05

This is, indeed, yet another example of how smart Jeff Bezos and the folks are. They didn’t name it iBooks. Or eBookstore. They knew that they’d want to expand it out at a later time and picked a name that was simple, evocative, easy to spell, and flexible. Shame Apple missed the boat on this one.

Then again, they’re not the only ones. Magnatune. Yahoo! Music Unlimited. And so on…

Michael 14 Oct 05

Why not just iTMS - just use the letters.

Like KFC. They don’t stand for anything anymore, as they use alien headless GM chickens, not real chickens ;

Don Wilson 14 Oct 05

iTunes sounds a hell of a lot better than “iTMS”. But then again, pskfqutnvg is the best name suggestion put forth.

cybernetic_interloper 15 Oct 05

They should make one standard apple program the handles all of their human interactions.

It shall be called iSoul from hence forth.

Buy our soul because it’s much cooler than yours. (Jokes - I like macs. I really do!)

Paul 15 Oct 05

To be fair, Michael, KFC has gone back to designating KFC as an initialism for Kentucky Fried Chicken since people aren’t a-scared of “fried” things anymore.

I think Apple’s store name will be a non-issue: just call it iTunes. People will know there’s a store inside of it, as they already do (and how many journalists erroneously think you *need* to buy music from iTunes to use an iPod?)

Rahul 15 Oct 05

I think using a program called “QuickTime” to view trailers is a lot more confusing than using “iTunes” to download movies.

Will 15 Oct 05

no one would go out and buy a box set of Good Eats…

I would TOTALLY go out and buy a boxed set of Good Eats. That show is great :)

Ray 15 Oct 05

Just rename it as the iPodSource or iPodStore or some other variation of this.

Dan Hartung 15 Oct 05

I’m with the “non-issue” camp here. MTV was a great example (although it goes by the initialism, not the name “Music Television”). As for the Tower Records example, I believe I first read a rant about how bookstores were no longer bookstores about 25 years ago.

Apple has established “iTunes” as a major brand name (although surely secondary to the iPod itself). At worst I would imagine them retitling it the Apple Media Store. But I think they’ll keep the positive brand associations of the iTunes name.

It’s also too early to see how this plays out. Probably in a year there will be competing handheld video players (perhaps with bigger screens and a little desk stand), competing stores, and so forth.

Oh, but KFC is still KFC. They don’t pretend the word “fried” never existed, but they haven’t put new signs on the stores or the website.

Don Wilson 15 Oct 05

no one would go out and buy a box set of Good Eats´┐Ż

The only reason I wouldn’t buy the box set(s) of Good Eats is because of the outrageous price. Albeit, it’s a great show, but come on.

Anonymous Coward 16 Oct 05

Michael 16 Oct 05

Its true, wierd names are fine if they brand is good. Really, it could be anything. I mean, people use “remix” to mean anything now.

All this talk of fried chicken is making me hungry. I don’t know what they are afraid of, I don’t go to KFC for health food.

DD 16 Oct 05

Racheal Ray is always half cut when she does her show. Good eats kicks ass.

Lloyd Dalton 17 Oct 05


Zane 17 Oct 05

I don’t think people actually call it iTMS. I read it here but when does anyone actually say that? It’s all just iTunes. And it’s a successful brand - why would you want to change it?

Riku 17 Oct 05

iPod is still primarily a music player, with the ability toi play video as a freebie feature - even the price didn’t change compared to the old version. Same with iTunes, you get music there, and the odd music video and serie episode as a bonus.

I really can’t fathom where people get all this fuss about a “Video iPod” and Apple pushing networks out of business.

Mags 17 Oct 05

“The Networks” aren’t going out of business just like the “Record companies” aren’t going out of business (yet).

The iPod is driving the change in the music business, but it won’t on the video front. I’m with Stevie J on the video idea. There isn’t much of a market for portable video.

But! I think there IS a market for downloadable “TV” and movies. You don’t have to put them on your iPod, you just watch them on your lappy, or your desktop, or plug one of the aforementioned into your TV. You don’t watch video whilst you’re on the go. You watch it oncst you get to where you’re going (for the most part).

Jonas 19 Oct 05

I’ll have to agree with you Jason, iMedia/iMedia Store is perhaps a more appropriate name.