There has been a lot of discussion about the mess that is iTunes. Almost everybody seems to agree that it's ugly, slow and bloated. It has also become a kitchen sink of barely related features due to necessity of supporting multiple generations of iPods and iOS devices. Many people also noted that the need to support iTunes on Windows makes it hard for Apple to redesign the application from scratch, in effect holding back the Mac version. In effect, iTunes is one of the last artifacts of Apple's "digital hub" strategy that has no place in the post-iCloud world. So what follows is my observation of recent Apple's actions and my speculation on what the future of iTunes will likely be. Exhibit A: QuickTime Player. Since version 10 that was included in Snow Leopard there were several peculiarities about it: Its UI is greatly simplified and heavily influenced by iOS; It drops a lot of features in the name of simplicity; It is now a built-in app and no longer available as a separate download; There is no Windows version; Version 7.7 is still available for Windows, Leopard or for anyone who needs features not provided by 10.0+. Exhibit B: Airport Utility. Version 6.0 was released not so long ago and there are several peculiarities about it: Its UI is greatly simplified and heavily influenced by iOS; It drops some features in the name of simplicity; It requires Lion or later; There's no Windows version; Version 5.5 is still available for Windows, Snow Leopard or for anyone who needs features not provided by 6.0. Exhibit C: Safari. Version 6.0 was released just a few days ago and you'll immediately recognize a pattern here: Its UI is simplified and in several ways influenced by iOS; It drops some features in the name of simplicity; It requires Lion or later; There's no Windows version; Version 5.1.7 is still available for Windows and Snow Leopard. So I think that around October (at the time of iOS 6 release) we'll see a new version of iTunes (11 or whatever it will be called) with the following characteristics: Its UI will be greatly simplified and heavily influenced by iOS; It will drop a lot of features (including device syncing and CD ripping) in the name of simplicity; It will require Mountain Lion (or Lion at least); There will be no Windows version; Version 10.6.3 will still be available for Windows, Snow Leopard or for anyone who still wants to sync their devices manually or rip CDs. So essentially my guess is that iTunes 11 will be just a media player with integrated store. Consistent with Steve Jobs' announcement that they demoted the Mac from the "digital hub" role to "just another device", it will simply become an iCloud client. Syncing media will still be supported for a while (using iTunes 10.6.3 or 10.6.4 if there'll be a bugfix release), but it will be de-emphasized and iCloud with iTunes Match will be the "new way" going forward. Of course, all this raises a number of questions. For example, how would you restore an iOS device? Will you still have access to the whole iTunes store, including iOS apps, or will you be limited to just music and video? Is it perhaps too early to drop local syncing completely, and there'll be a small app just for that purpose (iSync anyone?)?