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Would you run in flipflops?

Posted by aim on July 11, 2003 at 10:33 PM PDT

Recently my 15-year-old cassette walkman that I use for running
finally keeled, leaving me with no choice but to upgrade to an iPod.
But this rant is really about iPod's companion, iTunes, and
more specifically about Apple's dogged willingness to ensure that the
user experience dictates the UI rather than the other way around.

Now Apple could have built their music store as a classic web-based
interface a la Amazon or cdnow, but they knew better. Prior to iTunes,
my attempts to browse and buy music on the web were frought with the
classically annoying "give me a new page on every click"
molasses-like experience -- never quite edging to a net positive on
my precious-time meter - so I rarely bothered.

But iTunes is a real user interface dedicated to making the music hunt
(and purchase) effortless. It's not even flashy - it uses basic
controls (lists, tables, etc), no wizards (thank you!), and only an
occasional spare confirmation popup. Browsing and searching provide
instantaneous and *complete* results that can be sorted, filtered and
scrolled without ever roundtripping to the server. Playlists can be
edited and re-arranged using direct manipulation. It's so simple, it's
glorious. The result is that I've spent more money on music in the
last 4 days than I have in 4 years.

I can only hope and predict that this is a preview of things to come.
It may have taken Apple to start this sensible trend, but if Amazon
and Ebay are as smart as I think they are, it won't stop at OSX. Java
and Java Webstart make it possible to build iTunes-style web service
clients that run everywhere, enabling the possibility of putting browsers back in the
browse-document and form-submit business, where they belong.

So it occurred to me, as I was running to the sounds of my freshly
downloaded rendition of "I'll Take You There" by General Public,
that if I was forced to wear flipflops (or Birkenstocks) while running,
I wouldn't go very far.

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