THE BLOG

Steve Jobs, Let my Music Go

The new iPod my girlfriend gave me is a trap. Yeah, it is great looking and I really love the baby blue leather case but when, oh when, will Steve Jobs let me buy music from somewhere other than the Apple iTunes store and put it on my iPod?

I spent 17 years in the music business the last several of which were all about pushing and prodding the painful development of legitimate on-line music. Now, the music fan is on the cusp of riches in their options - free of the viruses of the pirate sites. There are lots of places you can go for great music at good deals and with a deep catalog of songs from over the last 20 or 30 years. MSN.com, Rhapsody.com, aolmusic.com, even walmart.com. There are little players to make your favorite music even more portable than ever starting at as little as 29 bucks. Most every player device works at every one of these “stores” and it is pretty easy to keep all the songs, no matter where you got them, in a single folder or "jukebox" on your computer.

But not the iPod. Most agree it is the best quality player on the market even if the cheapest one costs a few hundred dollars. The problem is that the iPod only works with either songs that you buy from the on-line Apple iTunes store or songs that you rip from your own CD’s. But those other music sites have lots of music that you can’t get at the iTunes store. So, if you have an iPod, you are out of luck. If you are really a geek, you can figure out how to strip the songs you might have bought from another on-line store of all identifying information so that they will go into the iPod. But then you have also degraded the sound quality. How cruel.

I know Steve Jobs is a god. Look, I bowed at his feet when the iPod and iTunes was created because HE GOT THE BALL ROLLING. He is as laconically casually cool as Bono and makes really good cartoon movies too. But keeping the iTunes system a proprietary technology to prevent anyone from using multiple (read Microsoft) music systems is the most anti-consumer and user unfriendly thing any god can do. Is this the same Jobs that railed for years about the Microsoft monopoly? Is taking a page out of their playbook the only way to have a successful business? If he isn’t careful Bill Gates might just Betamax him while the crowds cheer him on. Come on Steve – open it up.

Why am I complaining about this? Why isn’t everyone?