Is iTunes becoming unusable?

I am one of those iTunes users who has gone over completely – I don’t buy CDs anymore. All was well for a while, but increasingly I am finding that iTunes is struggling to scale up to the sort of demands that a well stocked library places on it. I’m not that an intensive user – I have about 2000 songs in my library – but on my old laptop it had become unusable. I think it is a real CPU hog, and it got to the stage where there was a one minute delay for every action. So you click on a song, a minute later it is highlighted. Trying to create playlists or organize your library is impossible.

I got a new laptop this week, and the performance has greatly improved. However, connecting to the music store is still painfully slow. The little bar goes halfway along and then stops. You go away, write a blog entry, come back and it’s still waiting. This is with a good broadband connection and a zippy processor.

I’m sure these problems can be ironed out but what it demonstrates to me is the way software gets stretched and used in ways that haven’t really been planned for by its designers. Apple must have done some load testing, but maybe not from the UK on a slowish laptop. The trouble is if you are setting yourself up as the new music format, then it has to be ultra-reliable. At the moment I am thinking of digging my old CD player out.

Now, if iTunes was open source, my guess is these problems would be ironed out, but at the moment they seem more concerned with adding new features rather than resolving reliability and robustness issues. I fear they will face something of a backlash though if these issues aren’t addressed.

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