To many Apple/Mac fans, Apple is not just a brand name, it is a way of life. The purchase of their products is like an initiation into a fraternal organization. For the purpose of this article, I will refer to it as the Apple Supporters Syndicate or ASS, for brevity. ASS’ members come from all walks of life, from teenagers and stay-at-home moms, to graphic artists and business people. Regardless of their background, these folks have a very aggressive devotion to the brand, seeming almost unnatural to the outsider.
Upon further examination (i.e. Buying an iPod nano), I’ve come to realize that this vigor to the company is bred into them from their initiation. Setting up the Nano was a hassle to say the least. Much harder than ANY other MP3 player I have ever used. The Nano was further from Plug n’ Play and closer to Plug n’ Wait…and wait and wait. The initial wait was due to the unbelievable amount of time it took to convert my entire music library, instead of just being compatible with many file types.
Next, I delved into the world that is iTunes. This software is the least intuitive software I have ever seen. It has almost no organizational features, such as a directory tree so that you can just view your albums only, and not every individual song. With ANY other MP3 player, you can just drag and drop songs or folders from your desktop to your MP3 player, just like you’d copy a normal file on your computer. Additionally, the iTunes software makes it difficult to transfer iTunes music and videos to any other brand of personal media player, and it is also difficult to use music purchased elsewhere on an iPod.
Now this may just be me, I hope it isn’t, but I can’t figure something out: Apple’s hold on the personal media player market seems to be similar, and stronger than Microsoft’s hold on the Operating System market. In 1999, Microsoft was charged with the following:
- Monopolizing the computer operating system market,
- Integrating the Internet Explorer web browser into the operating system in an
attempt to eliminate competition from Netscape, and
- Using its market power to form anticompetitive agreements with producers of related goods.
It seems to me that Apple could be slapped with these charges:
- Monopolizing the portable media player market,
- Integrating and packaging iTunes for use with the iPod in an attempt to eliminate competition from other music services, and
- Using its market power to form an anticompetitive agreements with producers of music, video, and other related goods.
Many would argue that there are plenty of alternatives to iPods as your personal media player, but you can also say the same about Microsoft. The alternatives being Mac OS, Unix, many flavors of Linux (including Xgl, a new 3-D desktop that is VERY innovative, click here for more details on that), SkyOS, Haiku, Syllable, Visopsys and the list goes on. The same applies with web browsers, there are countless alternatives to Internet Explorer. This being said, what did Microsoft do that Apple hasn’t? There is currently a lawsuit in place against Apple similar to this, however, they aren’t being made out to be the “bad guy” like Microsoft was. Apple’s lawsuit, for the most part, has remained completely under wraps.
I urge those of you out there considering buying an MP3 player or other personal media player, to check out the iPod alternatives before making your purchase. I know that iPod’s are great for some people, just remember that the same may not be true for you. An advantage to not having an iPod, is that you never get the “dependence” on iTunes and other Apple products. Using any non-iPod product typically has a much smaller learning curve, and they all operate quite similarly. So when you are looking for your own personal media player, or if you already use an iPod, don’t let the opinions of ASSs affect your decision. Try them out, and check out the computer interfaces before making your purchase.