Monday, February 05, 2007

No iTunes for Linux...

Wired's "Cult-of-Mac" column has reported that Linux users are petitioning Apple to make iTunes for Linux. As of this writing the petition only has 739 signatures, thus begging two questions: 1) Why hasn't Apple developed a version of iTunes for Linux yet? 2) Why do so few Linux users seem to care?

The comments posted on the column are telling. To answer the first question, Apple has been reluctant to create a Linux version of iTunes because, as "M_nassal" puts it, "there is very little upside for Apple to put the required resources on a project to port iTunes to Linux. Their resources are better spent trying to convert Linux users to Mac". Quite simply, it is possible that the numbers just aren't there. The more conspiracy-minded might also suggest, as does "Sam", that "their choice to not release iTunes is 100% based on the potential for widespread DRM hacking". In other words, Apple is purposely making life more difficult for programmers and people with techie skills because they are seen as a threat to their controversial (and some say illegal) iTunes-iPod bundling practices through DRM software.

"TC" comments that "in general, the culture of Linux is not well aligned with western industry/capitalism". That is hogwash. The Open Source community is not trying to undermine capitalism; it is trying to create better quality products. The day that better quality products become a threat to capitalism is one which I hope is not on the foreseeable horizon.

And finally, to answer the second question, so few Linux users seem to care about getting an iTunes version compatible with their Linux machines for exactly that reason. Better quality alternatives already exist thanks to the open source community, and the Linux world recognizes this. The comments on the blog are filled with Linux users providing links to the different pieces of software that they already use and prefer over iTunes. Several examples include the DRM-free Amarok and GtkPod, not to mention my personal favorite, Songbird.

Most consumers are still unaware that when they buy music on iTunes they will basically be trapped into buying iPods for the rest of their lives, even if they would like to try cheaper and better Mp3 players made by Dell, Sony, etc. Linux users are simply avoiding getting trapped into this system, and you can't blame Apple for not catering to them.

Then again, maybe if Apple actually did make iTunes available for Linux, they might actually take a capitalist stance and try to convert a few people into new customers; if they truly believe iTunes can compete with the open source alternatives, that is.


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