Apple misses an opportunity with Genius sidebar

When I heard about Apple’s new Genius tool, which claims to review your music library, and make music recommendations, I had high hopes.

Having installed the new version of iTunes I’m very disappointed, they should really have called it “Dunce”.  It seems that they’ve gone with an item-based collaborative filter, all it does is let you select a song, and then it gives you a list of songs that other people who liked that song also liked.

There are several problems with this.  Because of human nature, it tends to just recommend a bunch of other songs by the same artist, something I really don’t need a “genius” to do for me since this functionality has been in iTunes for ages.  The input to Genius about what interests me is just a single song – come on Apple, we had smarter collaborative filters than that a decade ago!

The real missed opportunity here is that it could so-easily have been a proper user-based collaborative filter.  A system that looked at everything I liked and didn’t like, and tried to build an accurate picture of my musical tastes, and then use this to make intelligent recommendations.

I don’t need them to use SenseArray (although it would be great if they did!), but the least they could do is make Genius a semi-respectable collaborative filter – something they’ve failed to do.


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