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TheStreet Open House

Here's How Tim Cook Can Fix Steve Jobs's Biggest Failure

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- At times like these, you recognize just how badly Apple (AAPL) misses Steve Jobs.

If the reports are true -- and Apple has hit a road block with the music industry as it pursues some form of Internet radio -- you can't help but wonder how things might be different if Jobs, not Tim Cook, sat at the negotiating table. But, hey, it is an objective truth -- Steve Jobs is dead -- and I guess the consensus states: Tim Cook's Doing Fine, Apple Shareholders Know Nothing. So, let's only look back inasmuch as required to effectively look forward.

iTunes might be Steve Jobs' single most impressive success at the same time as being his biggest failure. If Cook really is pursuing "iRadio," I bet he's doing it to make iTunes something more than a serviceable platform from which to play your vast music collection. Because that's really what it is.

That quick summary leaves out a major detail. Steve Jobs took the music industry for a ride.

When I say the word "album" to my daughter, she hits me with this glazed-over look. Thank Jobs for that.

Because of him, you can buy the hit song for a buck, random songs al a carte and "complete your album" for what feels like a nominal fee. We purchase and consume music the way most people think we should experience cable television. And it's all because of the iTunes model.

Beyond that, Apple -- and much of this must fall on Jobs -- failed with iTunes. It's not social. When Jobs attempted to make it social, he introduced one of the few Apple inventions that fell pitifully flat -- Ping. iTunes has no features. No bells and whistles. It's only sticky because it works well with your iOS devices and even random PC stuff.

Steve Jobs knew. And Apple knows. Spotify is everything iTunes should be, but is not. That, for all intents and purposes, is the impetus for Apple's Internet radio ambitions, assuming they exist. To roll iRadio into the iTunes platform and make it sing or to offer it as a standalone service so we'll forget about how ho-hum iTunes really is.

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