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New code added to iTunes database file prevents iPods from being used with any program other than iTunes.

Less than two weeks ago Apple revamped its entire iPod lineup along with introducing a new iPod model, the iPod touch. The product line update consisted of new features and designs for Apple’s iPod brand. The update, though, shouldn’t be taken entirely at face value; Apple also managed to sneak in some code that locks the new iPods to only work with iTunes.

Apple has locked out other digital content management software by adding “SHA1 hashes” to the beginning of the iTunesDB file, the database file which keeps track of digital content stored on the iPods. The enhanced code locks the iTunes database to one specific iPod and also prevents any modifications to it. If an attempt is made to either change the database file to a different iPod or to modify the file, the iPod reports “0 songs” are stored on the device. What this means is that essentially only iTunes can add or delete content from the iPod.  

The most plausible reason for locking then new iPods to iTunes is that Apple is becoming conscious of the growing threat that other music services are offering. Since many music labels are dumping DRM, it is now easier than ever for music services like Rhapsody to load non-DRM music directly to iPods through its own player; meaning iTunes is taken out of the picture as the digital content handler for iPods.

Locking iPods to iTunes effectively inhibits other media players from handling content for iPods. This move also prevents other music services from truly competing with the iTunes store and maintains Apple’s dominance.  

Apple has been very aggressive in the past to ensure that nothing changes the relationship between iPods and iTunes. Three years ago RealNetworks attempted to create an alliance between Apple and RealNetwork that would allow Real to license Apple’s Fairplay DRM technology so that it could sell files compatible with iPods.

Real’s ambitions turned out to be a failure when its talks with Apple failed, and so the company decided to simply reverse engineer Apple's FairPlay to create Harmony technology, which allowed music sold via RealNetworks to work on Apple’s iPods along with a plethora of other portable devices.

Apple nearly immediately issued a scathing response, and stated that Real’s move violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Apple also issued a firmware update to its iPods which blocked iPod access to Harmony files. At the time Apple said it was “stunned” by RealNetwork’s moves and accused it of using "tactics and ethics of a hacker."

Do you have an iPod but run Linux?  Tough luck says Apple.  Windows users who prefer to use other management tools, such as Winamp, will also need to use iTunes exclusively for now as well.

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ah well...
By Gul Westfale on 9/16/2007 6:02:30 PM , Rating: 5
... yet another reason not to buy an ipod.

i recently replaced my already broken (and yet just 1 year old) nano with the much bigger (in terms of storage), better featured, and yet cheaper creative zen, and now i'm kicking myself for having been a fashion victim and having wasted money on an apple product. never again...

RE: ah well...
By Dactyl on 9/16/2007 7:39:36 PM , Rating: 5
If Apple doesn't want my business, that's fine by me.

I want a player that shows up as an external hard drive when I plug it in to the USB port. I don't want to use a perverse proprietary connector and be forced to run anybody's software.

I put music onto my MP3 player with Winamp, or with the program I wrote for that purpose, or by dragging the files into the folder.

I doubt Apple will release a product in my lifetime that I feel I will "need" to have (and therefore, I will never buy an Apple product). If I can pass up on Bioshock because of the DRM, giving up Apple hardware is easy.

RE: ah well...
By Gul Westfale on 9/16/2007 7:50:44 PM , Rating: 5
there should be a 12-step program to help long-time apple customers get away from them.

RE: ah well...
By imperator3733 on 9/16/2007 8:55:17 PM , Rating: 2

RE: ah well...
By retrospooty on 9/16/2007 9:12:30 PM , Rating: 2
"there should be a 12-step program to help long-time apple customers get away from them."

That is a great idea... Of course the thing with a 12 step is admitting there is a problem is the key, and most Apple fans would never see that Apple is not the end all be all of the electronics industry.

RE: ah well...
By Gul Westfale on 9/16/2007 10:09:06 PM , Rating: 1


RE: ah well...
By Omega215D on 9/16/2007 10:12:11 PM , Rating: 1
As much as I dislike the iPod it is simple to use and it just works which is why people don't want to let it go. The sad thing is that "it just works" might not apply to the new gen of iPods due to their constant UI lag.

My Clix2 seems to be drawing a bit of attention to it.

RE: ah well...
By redbone75 on 9/16/2007 10:44:33 PM , Rating: 5
As much as I dislike the iPod it is simple to use and it just works which is why people don't want to let it go.

What could be simpler than just dragging and dropping files from your computer to your player? By no means do I mean to or intend to offend, but I've heard that little shtick used in Apple's defense before and frankly I'm sick and tired of it. I buy Product A, take Product A home, plug Product A into my computer with standard mini USB cable, and copy songs to Product A without having to first download any cumbersome programs. My Zen Vision: M sounds just like Product A. Oh, and it works for many video files as well, considering my ZVM supports so many more codecs out the box. This is just another way of Apple sticking it to their own customers. If I buy music from wherever, I want to be able to listen to it on MY DIGITAL MUSIC PLAYER that I bought for the purpose of LISTENING TO MUSIC ON THE GO.

RE: ah well...
By pheffern on 9/17/2007 9:15:37 AM , Rating: 4
I used to think this too, and had avoided buying an iPod for years because of it - that and the price. After a couple years with a drag and drop Creative player I finally caved and bought a thirty gig iPod this spring. You know what's simpler than drag and drop? Plugging the thing in and having iTunes automatically add any new music you have to it. I have yet to hit 30 GB.

Frankly I have no problem with using iTunes as my main music program - I buy the occasional CD or song from the iTunes store, but mostly I buy CDs and rip them. It's simple and convenient.

Judging by the ratings patterns in this thread, I'm sure I'll bottom out just for saying that I'm happy with my iPod, but that doesn't make it any less true.

RE: ah well...
By omnicronx on 9/17/2007 10:52:10 AM , Rating: 2
You know what's simpler than drag and drop? Plugging the thing in and having iTunes automatically add any new music you have to it. I have yet to hit 30 GB.
In 1998, yes.. in this day and age, most people store most of their music on their pc, even the CD's they own. I for one have almost 200G of music, and although i am tech savy, most of my friends that are not, have 20-60 gigs of music on their computers, plus the videos that could be used on the ipod too.

I am not saying 30 gigs is not enough, but when you have 6 times that, adding all new music in automatically means nothing to me, and thats if you only add music and no video. I have always found drag and drop the easiest way, especially if you have your music organized. The only cool thing i find about itunes is the picking of random music, but i am sure many other programs offer that feature also.

RE: ah well...
By kmmatney on 9/20/2007 2:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you. Although I use my Ipod for lots of backups, by dragging and dropping files from windows explorer, I would hate to transfer music that way. Much easier to transfer my music and playlists through Itunes.

I now use Itunes as my main music program, and it does the job quite nicely. The only problem I have with Itunes, is having to install Quicktime - however its easy to get around by uncompressing the Itunes setup file and only installing Itunes and not quicktime. Then you can install QtLite to replace quicktime.

RE: ah well...
By audiomaniaca on 9/20/2007 11:38:14 PM , Rating: 2
I bought a ipod "video" for my wife one year ago. Back then, I thought, wow, it will be cool to watch videos on it. Ok...

Just a while after, we both realized how COMPLEX was to understand how itunes works. Sometimes, you don't even know where the files are in your computer.

Synching it with the device is being sure that all files has been transfered is also a mistery.

One year after, her ipod "video" has never played any video so far. That's because putting mp3 in it is SO complex and hard that I don't even dare to try to make a video in the required apple format and find out how to transfer it using crytunes. To hell with it.

RE: ah well...
By DragonMaster0 on 9/23/2007 10:17:16 AM , Rating: 2
What about using folder syncing? Does the same thing without that resource hog called iTunes.

A computer with QuickTIme quick launch enabled and iTunes installed runs way slower. No wonder Jobs claims that Windows is hell, especially if he installs his slow ported software on it before doing anything else.

RE: ah well...
By Omega215D on 9/17/2007 2:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not defending Apple for those idiots out there. When people asked to use my mp3 players they keep telling me it's too complicated or requires too many buttons to be pushed and they preferred the iPod's scroll wheel and "clean" UI.

Before I got my Clix2 and Cowon D2 I was starting to think maybe my iRiver H320 was harder to use than the iPod.

RE: ah well...
By ElFenix on 9/20/2007 1:17:39 PM , Rating: 1
If I buy music from wherever, I want to be able to listen to it on MY DIGITAL MUSIC PLAYER that I bought for the purpose of LISTENING TO MUSIC ON THE GO.

then buy a CD player and CDs.

and as for drag and drop, that is far too complicated for many people. a lot of people have no idea about file management, directories, etc. heck, one secretary here, when she wants to copy a file from one place to another, does so through the "Open" dialog in word perfect.

RE: ah well...
By nayy on 9/16/2007 11:53:43 PM , Rating: 5
I totally agree, I will shamefully admit that i was considering buying a nano, but this is a total deal-breaker, so I'll wait for the sansa view
having said that let me break it up for you
Apple couldn't care less about what you and I think, we are not their target market, simply because we have a mind of our own and we don't need them to tell us what is best for us.

For apple this is probably a good business call, most of their users will put up with whatever crap they throw at them.

Finally we all know that this protection will be hacked soon enough, but frankly why bother with their products.

RE: ah well...
By kmmatney on 9/20/2007 2:39:22 PM , Rating: 1
I'm really not an Apple lover, but...

* When I plug my nano into my USB port, it shows up as an external hard drive. You don't need any special software. period. I back up a lot of stuff on my Ipod.

* With my Ipod, I keep a copy of the Yamipod freeare program on it - this program allows me to download or upload music from my Ipod on any computer. You can run Yamipod directly from the Ipod.

* Honestly, ITunes is a pretty sweet program. I hated it at first, but its actually a great program, especially once you trun off the Apple store crap.

I can't comment on DRM stuff, as I've never had an DRM protected music on m Ipod...

RE: ah well...
By audiomaniaca on 9/20/2007 11:26:05 PM , Rating: 2

Someone that thinks just like me! Last time I expressed such opinion in a post here, people went down on me telling that I wasn't smart enough to use such crappy software like the itunes.

itunes sucks very hard. There's nothing compared than a simple windows media device which you can plug using usb or bluetooth and actually SEE the files in the HD or memory.

Instead of that, with the mp3 player from apple, you have to install a PERVERSE software with one of the WORST interfaces and usability ever done,

Itunes is one of the WORST SOFTWARES to use in the world. And who's telling this is someone that uses programs for 3D modeling, protools, flash programming, etc.

Nothing compares to a simple OPEN FOLDER/ DRAG & DROP/ CLOSE FOLDER & play.

RE: ah well...
By abhaxus on 9/16/2007 8:43:17 PM , Rating: 1
Have fun finding a car head unit with integrated (or even available as a separate add on) zen controls... or controls for anything besides the ipod. this reason, above perhaps any other, is why the ipod is the choice of so many people. it has attained critical mass and is so popular that now nothing supports anything else. of course, new model kenwood, jvc, and pioneer head units with USB ports can control flash drives or even portable hard drives. but this is a long way from the fluidity of controls for an ipod on most of the head units with such controls. my panasonic is excellent.

i'm sure there are just as high a percentage of people out there that have had problems with a zen or samsung player dying prematurely.

note: i'm not an apple fanboy by any means... I just laugh when people automatically badmouth apple because they got a broken ipod. of the millions that have been sold, i hear of so few that are broken. I manage a retail store for a local CE chain, and 90% of the ones that people bring back "broken" are actually customer errors. They are the only product that we don't allow returns until we test them out in front of the customer to make sure they really aren't working.

RE: ah well...
By hughlle on 9/16/2007 9:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
Have fun finding a car head unit with integrated (or even available as a separate add on) zen controls... or controls for anything besides the ipod. this reason, above perhaps any other, is why the ipod is the choice of so many people.

near every steroe on the market supports a 3.5mm jack, people don't buy ipods for their incar compatability, as they have nothing for or against the competition. people byu them because they think they look cool, end of

RE: ah well...
By abhaxus on 9/17/2007 3:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
The 3.5mm doesn't bypass the iPod's (or any mp3 player) crappy internal DAC. The difference in sound quality between hooking my nano up to my panasonic through aux and through the ipod connector is incredible.

And a 3.5 mm jack requires that you have the mp3 player where you can reach it, and thus can be seen from outside the car. I keep my nano in the glovebox so I don't have to worry about someone seeing it and breaking into my car.

3.5mm != ipod controls

Although I must say I'm somewhat excited to see what the new samsung bluetooth enabled players can do with bluetooth head units.

RE: ah well...
By FS on 9/16/2007 9:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
I think the add ons, you are mentioning, were the result of ipods' popularity and not the reason . If zen(or sansa or any other) mp3 player was the number one selling device, it would've had the same(or probably a little more or little less) amount of add ons.

RE: ah well...
By stevenplatt on 9/17/2007 8:14:12 AM , Rating: 3
For shame Apple...FOR SHAME!!! Actually I just baught the new 80GB iPod Classic. It works fine, but like with EVERY Apple product, it is oversimplified. I dont want to have to go 4 menus back just to turn on shuffle feature. Apple products are easy to use only for the users that have not used anything else or are beginners. I wanted to purchase a iMac, but I didnt because they cant be upgraded or changed from what Apple decides users need. I want media card readers. I want HD DVD/Blu-Ray playback. I want a TV tuner! Before i bought the iPod i had a samsung flash player which died after 1 week. But just as with iPods, this was isolated incident. I really dont like that Apple is trying yet again to make descicions for you. But also the new ipods do allow Mass Storage use. But not drag and drop. I am very frustrated with apple.

RE: ah well...
By chrish89 on 9/17/2007 6:34:57 PM , Rating: 1
yeah right, creative is synonymous with quality. I've owned several creative players and both broke within mouthes. I've owned 1st gen nano since release with no problems...

RE: ah well...
By Parhel on 9/17/2007 8:19:44 PM , Rating: 3
Dude, you should never put your mp3 player in your mouth.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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