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Squashing the Apple iPod, iTunes myths

Sun Advocate/Emery County Progress

Recent reports indicate that Apple is now the #2 leading music reseller in the United States. That's no surprise, as Apple's iPod is the best selling portable digital music player in the nation - no doubt a result of Apple's highly successful marketing efforts.

At the same time, however, that same marketing campaign has created some strong myths that may be a little misleading for many iPod consumers.

Myth 1: Like it or not, you must user iTunes to manage your iPod via your PC. False.

While it is largely true that you must use the iTunes software to buy music from the iTunes store if you intend to store it on your iPod, you don't have to use it to transfer your own music files to and from your iPod. WinAmp (a free Windows media player) is fully capable of managing your iPod. So is Amarok on Linux. And those are just a few of the alternatives.

Myth 2: You have to use iTunes to rip (extract) music from your audio CDs if you intend to copy (sync) them to your iPod. False.

Your iPod is capable of reading music audio formats other than Apple's own. For example, an iPod is capable of reading the highly popular MP3 format. So, many people use WinAmp (or other compatible application) to rip, or extract the songs from their CD, save them as MP3 files, and then sync those files to their iPod.

Myth 3: The iPod won't work until you register your iPod with Apple via the iTunes software. False.

As long as you don't want to buy songs electronically for your iPod from the iTunes store, you don't have to register the iPod with iTunes. You can transfer your own music (i.e. as MP3 files) to your iPod with WinAmp or any other iPod-capable software without the need for the iTunes software.

Myth 4: Will the iTunes store make audio CDs a thing of the past? Certainly no one can predict the future, but it is highly unlikely iTunes will make CDs obsolete.

Why? Mainly for two reasons. First, CD players are far more widespread at this point than portable digital audio players like the iPod, especially if you count computers, virtually all of which can read CDs. CDs are universal (vendor independent), and they work in more devices (regardless of manufacturer) than Apple's iPod (for example, car stereos, home entertainment systems, DVD players, computers, etc). Many buy the CD and play it in their car or house, and then make MP3 files from the same CD, which they copy (sync) onto their iPod.

Secondly, the Apple iTunes store is largely designed to work only with Apple's software and devices. Competing devices like Microsoft's Zune player, for example, don't always fare well with the iTunes store.

Consumers who like the iTunes software certainly have nothing to worry about.

But those that don't like iTunes should know that they aren't bound to it, and have many options to choose from, especially on Windows and Linux.

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