When Will They Update The iTunes Icon?

Earlier today I was thinking about the iTunes icon and how it really doesn’t make sense anymore. When iTunes was released in 2001, everyone on earth used CDs, that was the standard for music. Cut to now, nearly 9 years later, a world that has mostly digital files or has regressed back to the good ol’ days of vinyl. But when you look down at your dock (or toolbar) you see a little blue music note over a… CD.

Since 2006 the iTunes icon has been relatively unchanged, but as music becomes more and more digital, it’s begun to lose it’s validity as an icon. I’ve started to think that it might make more sense for Apple to change it’s icon from something so grounded in the physical world to something more ethereal like a music symbol. They did it on the iPhone, which makes a lot of sense, so why not for the largest digital music player?

If I had to guess they’ll eventually go toward something with just the music note, much like the iPhone version. This way the symbol is unified between all systems, OS’s and devices. When something like this will happen, I dunno, but my guess would be in the next couple years, especially with the mythical Apple tablet supposedly coming out early next year.


20 Comments When Will They Update The iTunes Icon?

  1. PinballLes October 29, 2009 at 8:37 PM

    Is the iTunes name even relevant anymore? Maybe iMedia or something would be more relevant now that it includes videos, movies, games etc.

  2. gabyu October 29, 2009 at 8:38 PM

    interesting. actually, you can take a look at what the icon factory is currently suggesting.

    they suggest to convert all your applications into iPhone icon guidelines,

  3. Bobby October 29, 2009 at 8:41 PM

    @PinballLes – Good call, it’s definitely not encompassing of the media it can play these days.

    @gabyu – Those are some nice icons, definitely make sense for a more cohesive feel.

  4. Sarahhh October 29, 2009 at 8:48 PM

    I think iTunes has been left as a CD for obvious nostalgic reasons; As a symbol of the item it has effectively replaced. Following your brand of logic, Apple would also need to update their icons for:

    -iWeb (social bookmarking is the new bulletin board)
    -Pages (a fountain pen)
    -iPhoto (the border around the photo implies the use of film)
    -Dictionary (a book, which is gradually being replaced by .pdf type documents)
    -Mail (a stamp)
    -iCal (a wall calendar)
    -Trash (paper will eventually become obsolete)
    -Address book (an analog address book)

  5. Brendan October 29, 2009 at 8:49 PM

    I use PixelResort’s icons for safari, mail and itunes. The itunes ones in particular are nice and fun – he has some cool vintage wallpaper textured ones. They’re a little unique, and probably not something Apple would go for, but they look really cool on my dock (I’ve replaced the default glass texture to something that looks like a wooden desk top).

  6. nerdski October 29, 2009 at 8:50 PM

    I guess iMedia could work, but I still think iTunes is still catchy. But I do think the icon is overdue for a change.

  7. Max B October 29, 2009 at 9:00 PM

    Actually, if you step back and look at the iTunes icon on the iPhone… it’s a music note over a circle…

    I wonder if it it was intentionally meant to represent it’s desktop counterpart if it’s part of the design overall(as the App store shares a similar design).

  8. Bobby October 29, 2009 at 9:06 PM

    @Max B – That’s why I put the second photo up there, it’s the direction I think they’ll be going.

  9. agenerousdesigner October 30, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    actually they’ve changed the icon in iTunes 9!
    Look at the inner circle in full size. They removed the text. (found by some pixel fetishist :)

  10. John November 2, 2009 at 7:42 AM

    Good question, though I think you’re being to literal.

    Popular iconography can frequently (and IMO often _should_) lag behind the modern specifics of the system it represents. The psychological underpinnings work the same way that stage theatre productions work; actors are often acting “for the back row,” that is to say emoting in a broad fashion to ensure that the right tone communicates for someone who may not be right next to you.

    Visual communication is no different. We may pull imagery that outdated or even obsolete to the referent you’re describing, if only because of the lasting power and broad understanding of the look of the previous generation. Trying to symbolize television? You might use rabbit ear antenna, even though that tech hasn’t been in use for ages, but a wide section of the population is familiar with that form to broadly mean “TV”.

    Consider The Matrix. The dominant imagery they use to symbolize “Computers & Technology” is green text on a black screen. We’ve not actually used that in computing for generations, but it still has the power to read as visual shorthand for _computers_ to the masses.

    Bottom line is, yeah, the image of the CD is becoming outdated, but I’d be surprised if Apple changed the icon for at least another couple of years.

  11. John November 2, 2009 at 7:47 AM

    Pardon me. Much more succinctly:

    When your _parents_ stop thinking of music as CDs (assuming of course they’ve moved beyond vinyl), then it’s time to change the icon.

  12. C November 9, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    HOLD ON! The cd’s day is not fully behind us! If you go into a big name music shop, do you find hundreds of vinyls facing you? No! You are looking at rows of cds. Maybe the majority of music that circulates nowadays is in mp3 format, but cds are still the prvalent medium for “physical” music. Vinyl is only the main format for SOME parts of the indie/underground/elderly/some others music markets, which everybody knows is not the standard music taste (if you’ll excuse my murder of the english language). So THERE! Leave the iTunes logo as a cd.

    Of course I own a Zen as apposed to an ipod and a PC as apposed to a Mac so none of this really affects me.

  13. Bobby November 9, 2009 at 2:06 PM

    @C – Like I said, it’s an eventual thing, especially because Apple doesn’t sell CDs, they sell MP3s.

  14. Paul Masson September 2, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    New icon today with iTunes 10 – and the CD is gone.

  15. Pingback: The CD is dead, says iTunes 10 | App Culture

  16. Bru September 2, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Don’t really like the new icon :(

    Maybe cause its just something new on my desktop.

  17. ookwormbay7 September 6, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    ok then, you got what you wanted…but saying “I think they should replace this with…something” clearly didn’t give apple enough feedback as to what they should replace it WITH. I wish the new one had a bit more realism to it.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *