It made apps mainstream
Until July 2008, apps were just something you ate before the main course. Then came the App Store, a specialty shop inside the larger iTunes department store, and Apple's iconic "There's an app for that" campaign.
Soon, every early adopter was waving around their iPhone, boasting about all the apps they'd loaded onto it and slinging virtual birds at virtual pigs. The iPad only accelerated this trend. In January, Apple announced that more than 40 billion apps had been downloaded from its online store.
'All Together Now'
A small minority of artists have refused to sell their music on iTunes. But one group in particular was unmoved by the move to digital downloads: the Beatles. Thanks to legal disputes and sonic concerns, for more than seven years, the Fab Four (and their many representatives) resisted calls to transfer their prized catalog to iTunes, leaving music fans stuck with their old-fashioned CDs, LPs and reel-to-reel tapes.
That finally changed in 2010, when the Beatles' Apple Corps joined with Apple's core music distribution product. (Yes, the use of the name "Apple" was another part of the dispute.) Since then, the two have "Come Together" to the benefit of both. In the first week of availability, iTunes sold 450,000 Beatles albums and more than 2 million Beatles songs.
'Curse you, iTunes!!!!!!!!'
Despite its hundreds of millions of users, iTunes has its critics. It's become one of the most unpopular programs Apple offers. It's slow to load, it's a memory hog, and it likes to update seemingly every day.
"Won't someone take iTunes out back and shoot it?" Slate's Farhad Manjoo asked in an article as iTunes 11 was released. "Each new upgrade brings more suckage into your computer."
Apple fanboys wait excitedly for most new Apple products. But for iTunes? Not so much.
And then there's this: Legally, you don't own the songs you download on iTunes; you simply own the right to play them on your devices. So it might be a good idea to hang on to those old LPs and CDs -- and leave your passwords in your will.