iTunes, the missing link?

I happen to be an iTunes fan. I’ve been using iTunes for over half a decade now. Years before I ever owned my first iPod. Which is one of the reasons why I take issue when anyone says:

“the only reason anyone even uses iTunes is because they own an iPod, otherwise it’s a bloated and horrible piece of software”

Although I’ll agree that it’s bloated at over 100MB’s in size, I disagree about it being a horrible player. In fact I find that the people who often say this either have something against Apple in general or they are some kind of elitest geek/sound nerd who encodes all their CD’s to flac files, as if they can really hear the difference.

I understand my position might be different then others. I didn’t start using iTunes because I bought an iPod. Rather I bought an iPod because I was an iTunes user. To be quite honest, I wasn’t entirely impressed with iPods when they first came out. It took until their 5th generation before I even started taking notice of them. But I fell in love with iTunes years earlier because of it’s simplicity and power. Previous to that I had been a winamp user. Anyone who ever used either program will understand there is a world of difference between the two.

I found iTunes to be a fresh departure with more features, more neatly organized than winamp at the time.

My contract with Sprint expires in March of 2010. As such I’ve been keeping an eye on all the new smart phones being released these days. Hoping to get my hands on one of these new fangled large touch screen phones that are all over the place now.

Yes I’ve had my eye on the iPhone for quite some time. Being that I am an iTunes/iPod user. Unfortunately there is a rather large barrier between myself an the iPhone. That barrier being AT&T. Due to my credit not being the shiniest out there they would certainly ask me for a large ($500+) deposit on top of the cost of the phone itself. Plus tales of $90-$130 a month services plans for such a phone. It just seems to slip out of the realm of possibility for me. Unless I wanted to be truly irresponsible with my money.

As I’m already a Sprint customer (with no complaints) the cost of getting into a touch screen phone on Sprint is much more feasible. Not to mention that Sprint just the other day announced the cheapest smart phone plan of all the carriers at $70 a month for unlimited data, phone and text messages. Only $20 more a month then I currently pay for my limited voice+text only plan.

That said I’ve been keeping my eye on two phones that will be available to me when I do renew my Sprint contract, The Palm Pre and the HTC (android powered) Hero.

The Palm Pre is the closest you can get to an iPhone-like experience outside of owning an iPhone. It’s fit, finish and operation are hailed as wonderful and it’s only available on Sprint right now. However Palm is a company that is struggling to stay afloat and the Pre was their last ditch effort to try and gain sales and not file for bankruptcy. This leave me concerned about how well the Pre will stand the test of time. At least until 2012 when my contract comes up for renewal again and I can switch to a new phone.

The HTC Hero comes with a special version of Google Android with HTC’s own SenseUI skin added on top of it. Which is looking gorgeous. Most of the review on the Hero are good and are getting better because of the new software update a couple days ago which makes the phone faster. Being that Android is Google and not limited to just one phone or one carrier, I know it will be around for years to come and I know app developers are going to make a lot of apps for it, like they do for the iPhone right now. But I still have some general concerns about it all.

So what does this have to do with iTunes? Plenty actually. Although people don’t want to admit it, one of the biggest reasons why iPods and as a result the iPhone (which is also an iPod) are so popular, is because of iTunes. iTunes is the missing link. Neither the Palm Pre nor the HTC Hero or any other phone for that matter, have a dedicated and popular music/media application for the computer.

Many people don’t want to admit that iTunes is a great and very useful program. A program that easily stands on its own and makes owning an iPod or an iPhone even easier to use. It’s the missing link. Apple’s secret weapon. It baffles me that no one else seems to have figured this out yet.

Palm is very close to knowing this. They’ve made the Pre able to sync to iTunes. Unfortunately they do this against  the will of Apple. As such, Apple releases new iTunes updates to break the sync to the Pre and then Palm comes back with a new update themselves to enable it again. It’s become a back and forth battle and not a very stable selling point for any potential Pre buyer like myself.

Apple seems to understand the secret weaspon they have in iTunes. As such they don’t let anyone sync any other devices to the program. Only their own iPods and iPhones can be used with iTunes.  

Sure, companies have developed syncing software for their phones. Even ways to manage your music and sync it to your phone. I have such a program for my computer that came with my Palm Centro. But I don’t use it. The reason I don’t use it is because it sucks. I don’t want to use it with my phone, let alone by itself as my standard music player on my computer.

What all these companies really need to do is come together and develop some type of universal music/media/syncing program to compete with iTunes. Something that people actually want to use on their computers. Something with the same kind of features, fit and finish that iTunes has. Windows media player doesn’t cut it.
They need something they can release on every OS from Windows to Linux to Mac.

The closest thing to this right now is a program called Songbird. But Songbird has neither has the fit and finish of iTunes or the corporate backing of these cell phone / media player companies that are actually building devices. It certainly wouldn’t hurt for them to all get together and hash out a plan.

If they could bring us one great program that we actually want to use on our computers. Something that would also sync all of our cell phones and non Apple mp3 players, then Apple might actually stand a chance of being in trouble. But until they can get their act together and realize that iTunes is the missing link, Apple will continue to dominate the MP3 player and Smart phone market. 


0 thoughts on “iTunes, the missing link?

  1. i’m still too poor to consider getting a legit mobile

    but i am getting the 3rd gen iTouch in the mail! (free engraving )

    itunes may take a portion of my memory, but it has a cleaner organized music system compared to my Windows Media Player. also, plenty of exclusives are availble in the itunes stores as bonus tracks and EP sets. still, i’d rather buy some special edition albums over the itune dwls overall =/

  2. You CAN hear a difference in FLAC files.  It’s true.  You just have to have some good listening gear.  A great set of ‘phones with a nice amp can really show detail.

    That being said, I won’t invest in that, so Apple Lossless is my preferred format.

  3. i like the way that iTunes organizes music, i like the way my iPod works with the program, and i overall have no problems with either. i have a Mac, and I love the way it functions also, so maybe i’m a little biased.

    back in the dark ages, when i was using Windows, i used winamp, and i have to say that the transition (which happened when i got my iPod) was a little rough at first. i wanted winamp not because it functioned better (it didn’t) or was easier to use (neither is really difficult) but because winamp had customizable skins. windows media player (which i despise, btw) also can change the look, but apple doesn’t seem to be so much into that. and those are aesthetic complaints anyway.

    much as i’d love to have an iPhone, i can’t justify the additional expense. i have AT&T, but the phone i have does just fine making phone calls and text messages and doing little else. paying for the internet in a portable form would cost a lot, and i’m already paying for home internet.

  4. I just don’t understand… LOL

    iTunes sort of bothers me in the way they organize your music by default.  If you’re a newbee (like me), you don’t know to change it before uploading your music.  It takes all the music out of your folder and puts it in the iTunes folder… So if you delete music off your library, it deletes it completely off the computer.  Not wise…  Very frustrating when the user has to download all their music again. 

    However, I do like how it shares libraries when in the same network… for example.  When you are at my house I can share my library with you and vise versa.

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