It took 'em a while, but the folks at Apple have finally harnessed the power of Rich Site Summary (RSS) to make the iTunes Music Store even more addictive.
If you don't know what RSS is, you need to check out an RSS reader (there are loads, although I prefer NetNewsWire and the frustratingly-quirky-but-cool MacReporter ). Essentially, RSS feeds let you see headlines (of news stories, sports scores, weblog entries (like this one -- drag or copy this URL into a RSS reader to add an Editors' Notes feed ), you name it, in a small browser application. Usually you can opt to see a summary of the item, and can quickly click to open the full item in your web browser. It's a fantastic way to sift through Internet content quickly.
Anyway, today Apple added support for RSS feeds of content at the iTunes Music Store. More than just a simple static feed, the new iTunes Music Store RSS Feed Generator lets you customize the feed to suit your purposes. I used it to quickly create a feed to list just-added tracks in the genres I enjoy, plus top-15 lists of albums and songs.
(Why do I suspect that this will cause me to buy more music? Clever Apple. Devious, clever Apple.)
In any event, the most exciting thing about this technology is that someone at Apple thought it was worthwhile to build RSS feeds for the content on the Music Store. Hey, it's all there in a database -- getting database-based content into RSS form is pretty easy to do. But someone has to believe it's an important enough technology to spend the effort to get it done. Someone inside Apple pushed RSS, and lots of users are going to be buying more music as a result.