How To Import Music From Iphone To Itunes On Mac iConoclast

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iConoclast

I’VE never liked the iPod.

I know, I know. This puts me on the wrong side of 42 million people who have bought one since it was introduced in 2001, and that includes my editor and a couple of good friends. But that’s what iconoclasts do–they attack popular ideas and institutions, and these days, you can’t get any more popular than Steve Jobs’ billion-dollar baby.

Some of the reasons I dislike the iPod are simply visceral. First, I’m iSick and iTired of words that sport the iTinerant “i” as a way to convey… what? Oh, iDon’t know.

But there are more logical reasons I never took to the iPod and its evil twin, iTunes.

Now before any Apple fanboys break out the torches, let me state for the record that I am a satisfied user of an iBook (there’s that “i” again) because Mac OS X works very well without closing off the rest of the world. I do not have to go through contortions to share files with colleagues who use Windows or Linux on their computers.

The same cannot be said of the iPod, which is designed to be a closed system. To use an iPod, you must use Apple’s iTunes software.

While many people swear by iTunes, I’ve always found the program intrusive in the way it offered to scan your hard disk for songs, tried to sell you music, or ate up more disk space by duplicating your songs in its own directory.

Unlike with most other music players, you can’t simply drag MP3 files from a personal computer to the iPod and expect them to play. Instead, you have to import songs into your iTunes library before transferring them to the iPod.

MP3–the most common standard for compressed audio–isn’t even the native format on the iPod. Apple’s iTunes, the iPod and the iTunes Music Store all use AAC (Advance Audio Coding) instead. So to share songs with non-iPod users, you’d have to convert them first.

Songs bought from the iTunes store also include copy protection called Fairplay, which is anything but. The restrictions on end-users seem trivial–you can’t play iTunes songs on more than five PCs. But the copy protection scheme also locks out people who use other MP3 players from using songs bought from the iTunes store. This lock-in is now the subject of several anti-trust lawsuits against Apple in the United States and France.

Another iPod feature I never liked was that the battery is not user-replaceable. To replace a battery that’s out of warranty, you have to pay Apple $65.95 for the new battery, service and shipping costs–if you live in the US. In smaller markets like the Philippines, you have to work through authorized resellers or service centers, where the charges will be even higher.

Clearly, none of these objections matter to the millions of iPod users who cheerfully shell out for Apple’s shiny new toys as they come off the production line. I’m sure product quality, ease of use, cool design–and shrewd marketing–have a lot to do with it. Certainly, you don’t have to worry about battery life if you keep trading up as new models come into the market.

Now comes the iPhone, a product that Jobs says will reinvent the mobile phone and revolutionize the way it’s used. Announced earlier this month, the product will be available in Asia by 2008.

Many initial press reports have been embarrassingly effusive, praising the iPhone’s sleek, button-less design and touch-screen interface, while ignoring its weaknesses.

Would I want to shell out $500 or $600 today for a mobile phone that has no replaceable battery, no tactile keypad, no expansion memory, no support for 3G, no facility to be used as a Bluetooth modem, and a mere 2-megapixel camera? Probably not, when most of the established handset manufacturers already offer better features on their high-end phones.

Yet Apple is betting that 42 million iPod users will line up like lemmings to buy the iPhone. And at least one analyst suggested the phone is in a class of its own, beyond smart phones. He called it a “brilliant phone.” Brother.

What PC magazine columnist John Dvorak describes as Steve Jobs’ reality-distortion field is clearly at work. Time for a reality iCheck.

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