iPod therefore I am?

For all those not interested in tech stuff, tune out now! For once, I'll do a codemonkey-esque update. No, it's not about how MySpace is one of the ugliest looking sites yet gets 7000 new australian members to day, 60% of whom will never return. Though that in itself puzzles me.
No, instead, it's about Apple's iSTUFF idea, what will / should happen, and why.
Firstly, many have tried to topple the mighty iPod - Sony have the walkman, Creative the Zen, Microsoft are soon to the Zune, in an attempt to make an iPod killer. But no, these are doomed to fail. Why? A few things, most are driven by ease of use. You see, people don't like to do too much stuff when it comes to computers. Apple managed to capitalize on this by making a system which:
  • Uses one program (iTunes) to do virually everything.
  • Gives you access to the iTunes (Apple) music store from within the program
  • Uses non-standard file format AAC for iTunes downloads, rather than mp3
  • Handles 'podcasting' which is just syndication for audio files, around for ages yet still manages to get its own apple-ised name.
  • Uses custom hardware which only works for iPods
So, basically, they're creating a monopoly on portable music that is growing rapidly. People generally hate big corporation monopolies though, why is Apple still successful? Because all of those things listed above (except maybe file format) make it soooo easy for beginners to use. Is it going to last? Possibly. Certainly the competing companies won't take it down any time soon. However, an army of iPodders, all playing AAC and downloading iTunes, isn't really the best outcome in my eyes. Here's what I think should happen, and how it may work:
  • Make simple drivers for computer-player interaction. Things like addSong(), getSongDetails(), setPlayMode(), etc... will make it easy for anyone to write software to organize music libraries.
  • Create an *open* XML protocol for communication between music stores. Things to allow searches of content, pricings, track/album info, etc. This allows music library code to be independant of music retailers, and would help people hunt for the best price, hopefully making things cheaper in the long run. Kind of like what CDDB tried to be, but with retail information, and before it was privatised.
  • Decide on a file format to use - including the different multimedia types, like music, video, streaming, syndicated... The answer certainly *seems* to be mpX + xml.
  • Make hardware that works with different players. It's pretty simple, heck, everything could be USB if people really wanted. It's just amazing that there's no common way.
To sum it up, the different sections (software, hardware, distribution) should be split into different sections to give users more options - can you imagine if everyone had to use hotmail. search google and chat on AOL? As well as being made made public to aide decentralisation.
Sadly, I don't think this will happen soon - for the main reason that it will also make illegal distribution easier, so labels will be less willing to help out. Instead, we sit back and watch as corporations battle for sole ownership of music. Shaping up to be an interesting war ahead...

Oh, and for those wondering - TCCC design is going well, and psychology lectures
- inverse determinism, Cantor's theory - are a lot like maths lectures - invert the determinant, Cantor set. Enjoy september, and the show if you're going :D Blogwatcher has had a few bugfixes, and should hit 10,000 page loads soon :o

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