iTunes May Suck but DRM Sucks More

I can no longer launch iTunes on my machine. It crashes on startup. I haven’t bothered to try any dirty tricks to make it work yet because I know its broken. I upgraded to 5.0 and Apple is saying its windows testing department isn’t that great and missed some sort of major bug that corrupts your library.

This really is too bad, I’ve been using iTunes and an iPod since Christmas trying to really evaluate iTunes as a replacement for Winamp. iTunes does some things well but not well enough to be stellar. Take party shuffle, that could be a killer feature, it could be some sort of kiosk mode that lets people at a party choose music without disrupting what’s playing. Instead its just a randomised playlist filter.

iTunes does not support the level of customisation I have come to expect from Winamp. You can’t write plugins for it. The scripting interface is there but you can’t build GUI components that integrate into iTunes itself. If they had some sort of widgets (DHTML + JavaScript) plugin architecture that would have been much, much cooler.

Then there is the DRM. I bought a few songs in the iTunes music store. Its convenient in so far as I can get a song quickly IF its offered by Apple. Its inconvenient for me in some major ways. I don’t like the idea that I am responsible for backing up my purchased music. I bought the rights to that song, if I loose my copy I should be able to get it back by logging in and pressing the sync button. I have already lost one purchased song when I moved my library from one place to another.

The other major problem is the player. You can only play that music in iTunes. Right now iTunes isn’t working so I can’t play the music and I’m stuck waiting for a patch. The player, the DRM and the store are separate entities in the digital music equation. If the DRM was built as a plugin then I could buy music from any store and play that music in my player of choice. This is as it should be, CD’s work in every CD player. DRM music wont be widely successful until DRM content plays everywhere. And I’m not talking about Microsoft’s bogus “Plays for Sure” campaign. It only plays on Microsoft gadgets and in the Microsoft player. It doesn’t play on Winamp, it doesn’t play on an iPod or on a Mac.

In short the only plays for sure scheme is MP3. MP3 is the technology that beat the CD. It traded some sonic fidelity for more flexibility and I’m OK with that. In short my music is staying in MP3 format. It plays for sure on any player, portable device or operating system. I won’t buy DRM music that I cannot break and convert to MP3 as needed. In the end the only people that DRM hinders are paying customers. The pirates haven’t stopped and they have freedoms that currently cannot be bought at any price.

That’s a nice segue to a discussion on black markets but thats another show. Besides the latest episode of Diggnation just came in over BitTorrent and I’m gonna go watch it.



2 Responses to “iTunes May Suck but DRM Sucks More”

  1. Gravatar of Jay Jay
    21. September 2005 at 05:46

    so why not uninstall itunes and install a previous version?

  2. Gravatar of Gareth Gareth
    21. September 2005 at 08:13

    Please point out to me where it is on Apple website that I can download previous versions of iTunes or Quicktime for that matter.

    The point release (5.0.1) came out last night and I tried to upgrade to that. I tried a clean install of that and its still crashing. I blew away my library and still no dice.

    A downgrade sounds like a hot idea and I may have to find another source of the old iTunes 4.8.