Just As I Thought

Suddenly, control doesn’t feel good

We bought the iPhone with expectations — that we’d get more functionality relatively soon, that we would get ringtones and the like. Instead, what we got was a pipeline between Apple and our wallet. Three new “features” were introduced yesterday. The first, ringtones, I’ll go into in a moment. The other two are simply new ways to spend money but add no functionality to the phone. One is the the iTunes Store, which means that if you absolutely, positively have to have a song that minute and don’t want to use, say, your iTunes library on your computer, well, you can download it over wifi on the iPhone. Not EDGE, which would simply create more complaints to Apple and AT&T for the glacially slow system.
Or, if you go into a Starbucks (which right there should be enough of a requirement to scare you away) a button will appear on your iPhone enabling you to — yes — buy a song. They gleefully point out that access to the Starbucks wifi is free… for buying the song only.
Ringtones: using the new iTunes software, you’ll soon be able to pay twice for every song. 99¢ for the song — which is a prerequisite before making a ringtone — then 99¢ again for the privilege of snipping 30 seconds out of it and syncing that to your iPhone as a ringer. This is in and of itself really annoying, but considering that most ringtone services charge about $3 for one, it at least has the virtue of being slightly cheaper.
But it doesn’t end there. Only certain songs on iTunes are eligible for ringtone making. This is all another bizarre element of the music industry’s war on listening to music. I can’t figure out why they think a 30 second snippet of a song is worth so much; if I were the artist I’d be giving away 30 seconds of a song for free everywhere to get people to sample my stuff.
Now the real problem: the buzz is that the new iTunes software will remove any custom ringtones you’ve already placed on your phone using one of the many tools available for this purpose. As if this wasn’t enough, iTunes won’t let you make a ringtone from your own music, whether it was ripped from a disc or something you composed yourself, say with Apple’s Garageband software. No, it only allows ringtones from purchased songs from the iTunes Store.
Slowly but surely, Apple has moved toward a level of control that makes the RIAA pale in comparison. I feel betrayed and annoyed; and there are many, many other Apple fans who feel the same way — either yesterday’s announcements were a monumental business and PR blunder, or Apple has decided to shift their way of doing business and decided that the best way to do it was with big blows all at once, like ripping off a bandage.
Either way, they have seriously damaged my trust in them and I am no longer an Apple fan boy.

1 comment

  • I just don’t get the ringtone thing, but apparently I’m in the tiny minority, and I have to admit that I think the software that removes your home-made ringtones is evil. Oh and I’d heard that an iPhone update that already happened removed some hacks…

    I’m afraid though that Apple is far less to blame than the record companies. They have been pressuring Apple all along to charge more for more popular songs, but Steve has held fast. I have a feeling (especially with the NBC thing) that Apple is feeling a little bit up against the wall, even if theya re the biggest download service, there are still plenty of others chasing after them.

    TK (Still an Apple fan-boy but a little sad)

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