The iTunes 10 icon, where did Apple go wrong?

During the Apple Special Event which took place this week, Steve Jobs unveiled iTunes 10, with much attention drawn to a new updated icon. The crowd seemed really pleased with the icon, applauding and whooping. However, since then there has been much criticism all over the internet, which makes me wonder how Apple got it so wrong.

Apple events draw a lot of attention and their products have devoted users, but there are also people just as willing to knock anything Apple does. I’m sure Apple expects to receive good and bad critique of anything they do, but this new iTunes 10 icon does appear to have stirred up a hornets’ nest.

The criticisms range from not liking the blue or the gradient, it being likened to a Window’s Vista icon (could it get any worse than that!), it compared to free clip art or something from iStock for $5.00 and also likened to a child’s drawing (though I think that’s taking it a bit too far). I guess the point is, many people aren’t happy with it.

iPod Nano

iPod Nano displaying new iTunes logo.

Advert for iTunes 10.

iTunes 10, Apple’s latest release of its’ popular digital media player application.

Advert for Ping.

Apple’s new music social network, Ping, which uses the new iTunes 10 icon to dot the ‘i’.

Apple decided that after ten years it was time to ditch the familiar icon of the CD and music note that had been in use since the first release of iTunes in 2001. The icon was looking rather dated, so using just the note within a circle does seem a more logical choice. Overlooking the fact that iTunes covers far more than just music now, so perhaps should have a new non music specific name and icon. Though this seems unlikely considering how well known the iTunes name has become.

The old iTunes icon.

Original iTunes icon, since 2001.

The new iTunes icon.

New iTunes 10 icon.

Apple’s track record had been quite good lately with their iOS icons. Fans seem to be pleased with the design choices they’ve made, so it’s surprising that they’ve chosen to release an icon that has drawn this type of attention since its release. Perhaps they’ve got too complacent and didn’t appreciate the good decisions they’ve been making with their iOS icons.

iTunes app icon on the iPhone.

The iTunes app icon as it looks on the iPhone.

Apple fans being the creative bunch that they are, took no time before tweaking the new icon themselves. Many can now be found online and are available for download, allowing you to replace the new iTunes 10 icon with something more desirable. One such icon which appears to be very popular, was posted on Dribbble by Chris Carlozzi. It moves away from the blue, instead influenced by iTunes on iOS.

Unofficial alternative iTunes icon.

Unofficial alternative iTunes icon by Chris Carlozzi.

The criticism has become so bad that the icon is fighting back. iTunes 10 icon can now be found on Twitter, replying direct to it’s critics! And already has over 1,500 followers at time of writing.

Tweets by iTunes 10 icon on Twitter.

iTunes 10 icon on Twitter.

In just a few days the iTunes 10 icon has created a lot of attention. Apple may be quite pleased, then again they get enough attention as it is, I’m sure they would rather positive things said about their new icon. It’s surprising considering the resources of Apple that they came up with this icon, it’s certainly not the worst I’ve seen but it could have been so much better. I do wonder who made the final decision on the icon, I’m sure they would have had many options, so I’d be interested to know why they went with that one.

About the author

Paul Galbraith is a logo and brand identity designer, working with startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs in the UK, USA and beyond.