Itunes Music Shows Up On Old Computer But Not New iConoclast

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iConoclast

I never liked the iPod.

i know i know That puts me on the wrong side of the 42 million people who have bought one since it was introduced in 2001, and that includes my editor and a few good friends. But that’s what iconoclasts do—they attack popular ideas and institutions, and these days, you can’t get more popular than Steve Jobs’ billion-dollar baby.

Some of the reasons I dislike the iPod are purely internal. First, I’m sick and tired of iTinerant words using “i” as a way to convey… what? Oh, I don’t know.

But there are more logical reasons that I have never used the iPod and its evil twin, iTunes.

Now before any Apple fans break out their torches, let me state for the record that I am a happy user of an iBook (there’s that “i” again) because Mac OS X works so well without shutting out the rest of the world. I don’t have to go through the hassle of sharing files with colleagues who use Windows or Linux on their computers.

The same cannot be said for the iPod, which is designed to be a closed system. To use an iPod, you must use Apple’s iTunes software.

While many people swear by iTunes, I always found the program intrusive in the way it offered to scan your hard drive for songs, tried to sell you music, or ate up more disk space by duplicating your songs. in its own directory.

Unlike most other music players, you can’t simply drag MP3 files from a PC to the iPod and expect them to play. Instead, you must import songs into your iTunes library before transferring them to iPod.

MP3—the most common standard for compressed audio—isn’t even the native format on the iPod. Apple’s iTunes, iPod, and the iTunes Music Store all use AAC (Advance Audio Coding) instead. So, to share songs with non-iPod users, you need to convert them first.

Songs purchased from the iTunes store also include copy protection called Fairplay, which is anything but. End-user restrictions seem trivial – you can’t play iTunes songs on more than five computers. But the copy protection scheme also prevents people using other MP3 players from using songs purchased from the iTunes store. This blocking is now the subject of several antitrust lawsuits against Apple in the United States and France.

Another feature of the iPod that I never liked was that the battery is not user replaceable. To replace an out-of-warranty battery, you must pay Apple $65.95 for the new battery, service and shipping costs — if you live in the US. In smaller markets like the Philippines, you have to work through authorized resellers or service centers, where the fees will be even higher.

Clearly, none of these objections matter to the millions of iPod users who gleefully seek out Apple’s shiny new toys as they roll off the production line. I’m sure product quality, ease of use, cool design – and smart marketing – have a lot to do with it. Of course, you don’t have to worry about battery life if you keep trading up as new models come out.

Now comes the iPhone, a product that Jobs says will reinvent the mobile phone and revolutionize the way we use it. Announced earlier this month, the product will be available in Asia by 2008.

Many initial press reports have been coy, praising the iPhone’s sleek, buttonless design and touchscreen interface while ignoring its weaknesses.

Would I want to spend $500 or $600 today on a cell phone that has no replaceable battery, no touchpad, no memory expansion, no 3G support, no device to use as a Bluetooth modem, and a simple 2 megapixel camera? Probably not, when most established handset manufacturers already offer better features in their high-end phones.

Yet Apple is betting that 42 million iPod users will line up like lemmings to buy the iPhone. And at least one analyst suggested the phone is in a class of its own, beyond smartphones. He called it a “brilliant phone”. Brother.

What PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak describes as Steve Jobs’ reality-warping field is clearly at work. Time for a reality iCheck.

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