I'm a self admitted mac/apple fiend. Despite not owning any of their products. All the same, though, here's a blogger who makes a pretty good case against apple or using iTunes. I don't know if I totally buy into it, sure. And he sounds pretty angry. But at the same time, he makes a good point.
Basically, what Apple has done, is-- under the guise of "Digital Rights Management," that is...making sure that artists get paid for their work, as opposed to piracy (in which they get nothing but fame and recognition)-- they charge $0.99 per song, for songs that can only play on an iPod. Now, technically, you can (as I do), burn your songs to a CD, and then load the newly encoded mp3 format songs onto your non-apple mp3 player. However, only an iPod will allow the smooth movement between online music store, to music player, to your ears.
On the other hand, Microsoft publishes a format entitled "Plays-for-Sure," which they've licensed to nearly any mp3-player-maker that will ask for it. SO, if you download something from any music store that uses plays-for-sure (from what I understand, anything but iTunes music store), it will most likely play on whatever mp3 player you buy. And there are TONS out there. Many worse, some comparably good, to the iPod. The main hitch-- under the guise of digital rights management, iTunes does not allow you to play their music on any player except for the one that they own.
And not to draw analogies out too far, but there is a certain operating system, that runs on...90% of computers in the world, without which, many, and nearly most, mainstream programs, will not run. That's "Windows," the supposed dark side, as opposed to Apple- the light side alternative to dark Win-doze users! So let's get this straight...when you're generous to license your software to tons of manufacturers, such taht you accumulate a 90% market share...you're the dark side. When you're the 5% minority, then you're the light side alternative.
Now. The market share values for iPods, especially the hard drive iPods (30GB, 60GB) is somewhere close to 80%. How can Apple continue to claim being the "light side" when their market share of the portable music player market nears the supposedly oppressive market share of Windows on PCs? Granted, Apple isn't making this standard, or comparison, but for a company that proclaims to be "all about the music" when it comes to iPods and the iTunes Music Store, it seems to be qualified. All about the music-- as long as Apple continues to sell iPods.
And as far as the iTunes Music Store goes, taking a page from the blogger above...and my own undersatnding, from what I've read about Apple....yes, we pay the iTunes Music Store $0.99 per song. Apple makes nearly nothing, barely pennies, on the songs that they sell on iTunes (which just recently hit the "billion songs" mark). So they make pennies, the record companies make pennies...where does the money get made? Some place else, some place else that has higher profit margins-- someplace outside the iTunes Music Store, and that's the iPod. As referenced in the book Apple Confidential 2.0, the iTunes Music Store is a vehicle for selling more iPods. And it's working.
And that won't stop me from buying one. Why?
Because there is no comparable, as simply efficient chocie.