Thursday, May 14, 2009

iTunes: Apple's designer prison for the iPod

My good friend and occasional intellectual sparring partner, the Whited Sepulchre, recently complained on Facebook, "I want to know why we have to tolerate living in a country where you're only allowed one iPod account per computer."

To which I say: if you choose to use iTunes, you choose to accept that limitation. Don't like it? There are alternatives.

Let's start with what's wrong with iTunes -- why you can only have one iPod account per computer. Think this was some weakness or deficiency in the iPod or iTunes? Wrong: this is broken by design, on purpose.

Consider this: iTunes is not just a music manager. It's the front end to Apple's extremely lucrative digital music store. You can only have one iPod per computer because that fits their business model. If you had more than one iPod per computer, you might be able to (god forbid) share music between devices.

Fear not: alternatives abound.

An old Windows favorite is Winamp. It's gone from a light-weight minimal player to a full-featured media management center (which can no longer be called lightweight. While the pro version costs a modest $20, the freeware version is still loaded with features, including internet radio, internet TV, music management, support for an extensive array of plugins and media players, including the iPod.

Songbird has become an impressive alternative over the last few years. Because it's built on the Mozilla (web browser) codebase, it has lots of web integration and a large, active plugin developer base. Bookmarking, skins are supported, as well as hooks into Wikipedia (for artist information). Versions are available for Windows, Linux and Apple.

Also available for Windows, Linux and Apple is Floola. While more spartan in its approach than some of the others described, it gets the job done. The sparce apporoach has its advanatate; smaller footprint, simpler operation.

And last, if not least, if you are using a recent version of Windows, don't overlook Windows Media Player. It has device support and a pretty good feature set.

For more music managers, see Wikipedia.

1 comment:

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Now they tell me.....