RealTime IT News

Apple Makes Mini Tweaks to iTunes

Responding to criticism that it was collecting customer information surreptitiously and without permission, Apple Computer announced it's made changes to the MiniStore feature in its iTunes software.

The MiniStore window pane pops up with music or video suggestions as users play songs from their libraries. But the suggestions are based on information from the songs the user has selected – information that was being automatically sent to Apple .

"We've listened to our users and made access to the MiniStore an opt-in feature. Apple does not keep any information related to the contents of our users' music library," Apple said in a statement.

From the start, users had the ability to turn off the MiniStore feature, but with the changes, users now have to proactively activate it.

Amazon.com and other e-commerce sites have long had recommendation features based on what customers have previously purchased. Apple ran into trouble because it was not being as explicit that they were collecting customer information.

Apple had to address a more insidious problem earlier this month when five highly critical flaws in its QuickTime application were discovered that affected both Apple and Windows versions, as well as the iTunes application.

Apple released an update designed to fix the problems.

Meanwhile, the popularity of iTunes has never been higher. Traffic to the online music service has skyrocketed over the past year some 241 percent, according to data released by Nielsen//NetRatings this week.

The research firm estimates that the iTunes Web site has grown from 6.1 million unique visitors in December 2004 to 20.7 million in December 2005.

Teens are twice as likely to have visited the iTunes site compared to other age groups. And Nielsen//NetRatings reports that 54 percent of the visitors are male and 46 female.

"The rapid growth of iTunes is an important phenomenon in the online media marketplace," said Jon Gibs, director of media analytics at Nielsen//NetRatings. "Consumers have clearly indicated that they are eager to control their own music libraries, one song at a time."