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Even though iTunes will let you download multiple items at a time, the downloads will typically run serially, instead of in parallel. If you select 3 TV episodes to download, it will download one completely, then the next one, and then the last one. iTunes is slow. Even with a fast internet connection, you can measure the download speed in seconds per megabit, rather than megabits per second. 😉 It can take anywhere from 10-50 seconds to download one megabyte (which is 8 megabits). That’s really slow.
Why is it so slow? One could say Apple is a victim of its own success. Many people are using iCloud and iTunes, so their data center is quite busy. I think this is unacceptable and demonstrates greed. They need to invest in more servers and bandwidth, rather than making customers wait a day to download a one hour HD TV show. It seems like bad business as well. If it takes a day to download a show on iTunes, I’m not going to buy a lot of shows. This definitely dissuades impulse buying. I know that I have succumbed to impulse buying with iTunes music, as I can start playing an album within 2-3 minutes. Their devices, particularly the iPhone, are by far the most profitable. Perhaps iTunes, which is a mere fraction of Apple’s revenues, is not worth the investment in a viable data center. If Apple starts to feel the squeeze of diminished profits, they may invest in improving their data center.
The only reason I put up with iTunes slowness is due to quality. I am a fan of Breaking Bad. While I am watching season 5, I am also revisiting older episodes on Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix HD is not as good as iTunes HD. Netflix is a streaming service. They use “lossy” data compression to facilitate instant viewing. The difference between Netflix HD and iTunes HD is quite noticeable. In fact, I have season 4 of Breaking Bad both on iTunes and Netflix. I am putting up with the hassle of re-downloading season 4 from iTunes because it offers superior quality. That said, it should not take all day to download a 1.5 GB TV episode.
iTunes is SLOW! If Apple can’t get their data center in shape, they will succumb to the competition. At a certain point, people are willing to trade off quality for instant gratification. Breaking Bad is awesome. It has fast action and features breathtaking cinematography. This TV show is better than most blockbuster movies. If a show isn’t as good, but still worth watching, Netflix quality is sufficient.