I've never had an iPod. Up to now I've used a Nokia N95 phone as a portable music player. I've had an ad-hoc system of putting music on it involving ripping CDs from linux and occaisionally bothering to connect my phone and copy files to and from it. Things I've never investigated but would like to would be how to make podcasts work seamlessly, random changing of music on the device prioritising new stuff and other things I haven't thought of.
I'm aware that I haven't really got a handle on the new digital music revolution, I still tend to play CDs because I have disks and players everywhere. I'd always chalked it up as a thing to find out about at some point in the future.
For christmas I got an iPod Nano Video. This made the future come through, so I thought it was time to find out. Given Apple have seamless fantastic support for everything, and the fact my linux laptop initially crashed the device I thought I'd try out iTunes and see how great the new music revolution actually was.
Initially it all went well. I copied some mp3s onto my iPod via iTunes and it worked. With a bit of faff downloading a media convertor I was even able to put a music video I had lying around onto it. All seemed well.
Then I tried to rip a CD via iTunes to install onto my iPod. I can't. I tried several CDs. None of them would rip. Maybe it's because I had a USB cd drive (which linux supports absolutely fine I hasten to add). iTunes can't even play music from the USB cd drive and even Windows Media Player can do that.
Arse, I thought. But I headed up to my computer upstairs to install the CD on my iPod.
I put the CD into my other computer with normal CD drive, go to iTunes. CD still won't rip. Try another CD, that works fine. Blimey, this copy protected CD stuff actually works on iTunes. Double check that linux correctly ignores all the stuff and I act suprised that Apple haven't fixed this and that record companies are stupid enough to release music that can't be played on an iPod. Seriously, music that can't be played on the worlds most popular media device out of the box? And they wonder why they're losing money.
So I connect my iPod to my newly ripped old CD, sync it across. The iPod is now blank apart from my new CD. WTF moment #2 strikes. I can only use my iPod with one computer. That's a complete pain given I have two that I commonly use and it's entirely possible I might want to charge the device without wiping it when I'm not at home. Maybe I'd like to download a podcast when I'm on the move. After all, it's a portable music player that only works with my distinctly non-portable computer because my laptop has a USB cd drive that every other media player in the world can use fine.
So I'm officially completely unimpressed. I had these crazy visions that I could plug my iPod into any iTunes machine anywhere and it would magically fill up with the podcasts I've requested, and I could immediately put CDs and iTunes tracks on it. Ideally it'd automagically rotate my music collection around on my iPod even if I wasn't at home.
Is this really the best that there is? The iPod itself is gorgeous, but the software support is worse than the adhoc system I threw together for my phone over a coffee.
The iPod has sold over 100 million units. That's over 100 million people who like listening to music that can't purchase copy protected CDs. Apparently sales of CDs are on the slide. Astonishing. The industry went out of it's way to exclude its 100 million best customers and is now suffering declining sales.
Name a stupider move a business could make than CDs that can't be played on the iPod.