iTunes Gets A Bad Rap

I’ve searched high and low for an alternative to iTunes, but I’ve yet to find a suitable replacement. I use iTunes for playing music, mainly over AirPlay in my home office, and it works great. I’ve got smart playlists, star ratings, and an iTunes Match account to keep everything in sync between home, work, and mobile. Given my investment of time and money over the years, it’s possible that I may be suffering from some type of sunk cost fallacy, but honestly I really enjoy iTunes.

I’ve read several arguments against iTunes, and most of them make perfect sense. The application does try to do too much in a way very unlike most Apple designs, but I find it easy to ignore what I don’t use. Most of what I’ve read centers around how bloated iTunes has become, but the performance counters I see tell me that it is not much, if any, heavier than comparable applications. I recently compared iTunes 11 to Sonora and Tomahawk monitoring CPU utilization per process using Activity Monitor while the window was closed.

  • Sonora
    • 3.1% CPU, 66.7MB - No Window
  • Tomahawk
    • 4.3% CPU, 82.6MB - No Window
    • Occasionally spikes to 91% CPU use, not sure why.
  • iTunes 11
    • 2.9% CPU, 94.5MB - No Window
    • 2.9% CPU, 97.7MB - Mini Player Window
    • 2.9% CPU, 97.8MB - Main Window

So, from what I can see, iTunes does use more RAM, but not by much. But it also uses less, or at least comparable CPU than the other two. I’ve done the same checks previously with different music players, and normally find similar results. With the feature set that iTunes has, I don’t see a reason to go through the hassle of using anything else.

A few other people I follow on the web have stopped using iTunes in favor of web based streaming services like Spotify or Rdio. I haven’t checked the resource use of the web players or the native clients of these services. I prefer to manage my music collection myself, and living out in the boondocks in the midwest, I don’t like having to depend on my Internet connection when I want to listen to something. Also, I still haven’t figured out where my bootlegged collection of Greatful Dead shows fits into a service like Rdio.

I still believe that Apple should split iTunes into separate apps, and I know that there are other people who’s use of the app differs from mine significantly enough that they see problems with it. It just doesn’t happen to me.