iTunes 11 did not arrive on time. Apple originally promised to deliver the next version of its ubiquitous music-management program in October. Last month, though, the company announced that the release would slip to November, because the company needed “a little extra time to get it right.” This week the Wall Street Journal, citing “people who have seen it,” reported that the real cause was “engineering issues that required parts to be rebuilt.”
I suspect both those explanations are euphemisms for what’s really happening in Cupertino. I picture frazzled engineers growing increasingly alarmed as they discover that the iTunes codebase has been overrun by some kind of self-replicating virus that keeps adding random features and redesigns. The coders can’t figure out what’s going on—why iTunes, alone among Apple products, keeps growing more ungainly. At the head of the team is a grizzled old engineer who’s been at Apple forever. He’s surly and crude, always making vulgar jokes about iPads. But the company can’t afford to get rid of him—he’s the only one who understands how to operate the furnaces in the iTunes boiler room.