I know the term “iPod Platform” has been tossed about, and in the tossing Dave says:

And when Adam Curry calls the iPod a platform, he’s overlooking one important thing that users and developers like to see in a platform: choice of vendor. It’s laughable to think that iTunes will ever work with another vendor’s hardware, it’s not very likely to happen, in our lifetimes, even if we live to a ripe old age. I literally did laugh when I considered the idea. That’s not the way Apple works.

Here is a list of iTunes 4 for Mac OS X Compatible Players. I bought a Rio 500 last year, and based the choice on the price (cheap!) and the fact that it worked with iTunes. Dave might be paranoid about Apple being a closed platform, and he’s got much experience with that. So we keep looking… Now, here’s where things get sticky and tricky. There is a page titled MP3 player compatibility with iTunes for Windows which says:

iTunes for Windows can transfer a variety of audio and music files to iPod, including MP3 and AAC encoded files. Other MP3 players do not work with iTunes for Windows.

So I wonder, are those players listed on the Mac OS X Compatible Players page mostly legacy things, either deals that existed before the iPod took off, or what? I mean, the list is not long, and there’s only a few companies represented on it. I know I get just a little nervous at each iTunes release that my Rio 500 will no longer be supported.

Of course the Apple-fan can explain this as such: Apple wants you to buy an iPod, and a Mac, but if you won’t buy a Mac, at least buy an iPod, and we’ll give you the nice iPod software called iTunes, and it’ll work with the iPod, and a few other devices, if you have a Mac, but not if you have a Windows PC. Or something like that… Just buy an iPod… and a Mac.

But why doesn’t Apple support more players? If they feel they’ve got the best player on the market (and the much of the market seems to think so) why not open things up more? Sadly, I fear that Microsoft could actually create something that does support a zillion players, sure it would be clunkly, and probably suck, but people could toss out the old “Microsoft WinTunes supports 200 different players, and iTunes supports just a few…” arguments… which I tend to not like…

Oh, one other thing, as long as we’re on the platform. I’ve heard a few people talk about getting other players into the whole auto-download-and-store-on-device thing, where you could just connect your player and have it sync up, or be ready to go when you disconnect it from it’s dock/charger each day. The iPod and iTunes makes it all simple, and fast, that’s the plus there. For other players, if they can accept files dropped on them (as I think some of the USB devices do) you’re set, just have the files saved/copied to the device. For things like the Rio, it’s still manual. I connect it, and then using iTunes delete the old stuff, copy over the new stuff, and then disconnect it. Oh, I also have to make sure I have charged batteries, as I’ve read that if it dies during a transfer, it can hose up the firmware a bit or something…

In conclusion, the iPod is a very nice device, though Apple can be a bit too closed, but that’s how they’ve always made great things, right? As always, we’d be more than happy to review the iPod and write more about it, as soon as we get one…

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