on Oct 7, 2006
It’s been almost a decade since I let Realplayer set foot on my computer. Occasionally I’m compelled to help a friend fix their screwy computer and I’ll see the Realplayer icon in the system tray. I still recoil at the sight of the thing, as if it was a flaming pentagram icon or Carrot Top.
My own experience with iTunes:
A while back Pepsi had a promotion where about half of their 12oz drinks had a “free song from iTunes”. This is what actually prompted me to download iTunes in the first place. I snagged a couple of songs. I liked the way you could browse, preview, and download songs. I redeemed a couple of these free songs before I noticed the catch: The songs come in iTunes-only format. Then I remembered a bunch of ranting on Slashdot about DRM when the iTunes service first opened and I realized this is what I was looking at. I didn’t care so much about the copy protection, but I didn’t like the fact that in order to play my songs I had to use their player. (Yeah, I know, that’s how it works, blah blah. I could care less.) Nobody could ever get away with selling cassette tapes that would only play on a Sony tape player, but iTunes is doing exactly that with digital music. Yech.
I wasn’t about to give up my beloved mp3 player of choice to use the bloated and slow-loading iTunes. The shopping interface was perfect, but the player interface was about as useful as a twenty-pound salad fork. I also wasn’t a fan of how iTunes tried to abstract my MP3’s into “collections” or whatever. I already have them carefully organized and labeled – the last thing I need is a program that tries to impose some other organizational system on top of that.
I suppose in some abstract way I still “own” the songs I downloaded, but I have no way of playing them. If I sold someone a television and then told them it would stay at my house and they could come over and watch their television anytime they wanted, I don’t think they would feel like they owned the TV. I don’t feel like I own these songs.
So yeah: iTunes is a jerk of a program, although unlike the other two it is partly so by design.
Hat Tip: The Rampant Coyote
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.