I want to bring iTunes-loving Linux users back to reality. As you can see from the following Ubuntu Forums threads, some Ubuntu-ites are deluded about the idea of Apple porting iTunes to Linux:
Why Apple doesn’t want to release iTunes for Linux
Petition – iTunes for Ubuntu
Should Apple port iTunes to Linux?
The iTunes Linux Project
If you’re too lazy to read those links, I can sum up how the iTunes discussion usually goes among Linux users:
Hi. I’m new to Linux. How do I install iTunes on it?
iTunes is a bloated piece of crap. Use a real music application like AmaroK.
I really like iTunes, though.
I installed iTunes on Ubuntu with Wine.
iTunes installs with Wine, but it isn’t fully functional. Don’t bother.
Why do you have an iPod anyway? Use a Cowon player instead. It’s more Linux-friendly.
I kind of like the iTunes music store. Will the songs I bought from there be able to play on a Cowon player?
No. Pop music sucks these days. Don’t support the big labels. Support independent artists.
But I like pop music. Can’t we convince Apple to port iTunes to Linux?
I’ve put together a petition for it. Go to this link to sign it.
I hate iTunes, but I signed the petition because it’ll help bring more users over to Linux.
Apple can keep its proprietary applications. We have better iPod-management software on Linux anyway.
I think I got all the major arguments in there.
Philanthropic Apple porting iTunes?
Now imagine you’re an executive at Apple—Steve Jobs or somebody else. If you read that kind of back-and-forth, would you (even if you were more philanthropic- than profit-oriented) port iTunes to Linux? I know I wouldn’t. Even if I didn’t care about profit, I wouldn’t, because there are too many anti-proprietary software and/or anti-Apple elements in the Linux community. With the number of Linux users not buying iPods, buying iPods and installing Rockbox onto them, and using non-iTunes Music Store services like Jamendo, eMusic, or Amazon, I wouldn’t see a very compelling case for putting any resources into porting iTunes to Linux.
Profit-oriented Apple porting iTunes?
But that’s also assuming Apple isn’t, like almost all corporations, motivated by profit and pleasing the shareholders. Apple is a hardware company focused on hardware sales. They do earn some money from iTunes Music Store purchases, Apple Care subscriptions, and software sales, but their big cash cows are iPods, iPhones, and Macs. That’s what their efforts are focused on: How do we get people to buy more iPods, iPhones, and Macs?
Why did Apple port to Windows?
Apple ported iTunes to Windows, because they knew Windows users wouldn’t otherwise buy Macs in order to have their iPods sync properly, which meant Windows users wouldn’t otherwise buy iPods. And if Windows users hadn’t bought iPods, iPods wouldn’t have taken off. Creative or Sandisk might have instead dominated the portable music player market. The supposed “halo effect” that has Windows users gradually moving to more Apple products is the main reason for the iTunes port to Windows.
What would porting to Linux gain for Apple?
Could a similar effect be achieved by porting iTunes to Linux? I doubt it. My general sense from three years of active participation in the online Linux community is that those who want an iPod will get an iPod, regardless of whether iTunes is available for Linux or not, and those who won’t get an iPod won’t get one anyway. Not to mention that there aren’t (relatively speaking) that many Linux users to begin with.
As a matter of fact, porting iTunes to Linux is counterproductive to Apple’s goals. Porting iTunes to Linux might make Windows users take more seriously Linux as an alternative to Windows, which means they might keep their old Dell or HP computers and install Linux on them instead of saying, “Hey, I want a Windows alternative. Maybe I’ll get a Mac.” People generally do not think of Linux as a viable alternative to Windows, which is fine by Apple. Remember—it’s “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC,” not “I’m OS X, I’m Windows, I’m Linux.”
It wouldn’t even help community relations
And porting iTunes to Linux wouldn’t even build good will in the Linux community. As a PR move, it would fall flat on its face. I don’t know whether it’s large percentages of users or just the vocal minority, but you know the second Apple ported iTunes to Linux, there would be cries of “Do not infest my system with your proprietary, bloated crap” and “Why don’t you just GPL iTunes instead?”
Personal story time
My first portable audio player was an iPod, and I used iTunes for Windows with it. When I moved to Linux, I dual-booted with Windows just for iTunes. Eventually, I weaned myself off iTunes and the iPod and used Rhythmbox and a Sandisk player instead, mainly because iPods don’t have FM radios. My wife (also a former Windows user), on the other hand, bought an iPod, used iTunes on Windows until she had to buy a Mac for school (the school mandated students in her line of study buy a Mac), and then she used iTunes on the Mac. There was a time when she considered getting a non-iPod portable music player, but the information on what non-iPods worked well with Macs was too difficult to find at the time, so she stuck with iPods. I had one dalliance with Cowon’s crappy players (the iAudio 7, which busted after only three months of use), but I’m back to Sandisk.
Now, if Apple had ported iTunes to Linux when I was dual-booting just for iTunes, I would have found it convenient to have iTunes on Linux (and I’d have ditched Windows sooner), but I’d have probably still moved to Sandisk just because of the lack of radio in the iPod. So Apple wouldn’t have sold our families any more iPods or Macs. And I think that’s a pretty typical scenario.
With regard to Apple products and Linux users, I’d say Linux users generally fall into these categories:
- I have no problem with Apple products. I own them and use them in addition to Linux.
- I have no problem with Apple products. I own them and install Linux or Rockbox on them, or mod them in some other way.
- I’ll use an iPod, and I wish Apple would port iTunes to Linux, and I’d be grateful to have better integration, but in the meantime I’m coping fine with AmaroK, GTKPod, and other native Linux applications.
- I’ll use an iPod, but I hate iTunes and much prefer native Linux applications.
- I realize some people like Apple products, but I don’t really need them. I prefer non-Apple products.
- I hate Apple products. I think they’re overrated and overpriced. Apple locks users in more than Microsoft does. Down with DRM! Down with proprietary software!
Some of the expressions in there might be exaggerated, but those are the major demographics in the Linux community with regard to Apple, and I don’t really see how any of them would be buying more Apple products than they already are if Apple ported iTunes to Linux.
iTunes on Linux—not going to happen.
The Futility of Online Petitions