Most of the articles I’ve come across regarding AT&T’s stipulation that an iTunes account is required for iPhone setup are pretty negative. People seem to be under the impression that Apple has some sort of evil intention, or trying to lock them into something.
This should come as no surprise to those familiar with the practices of Apple, who regularly confines its users to fairly enclosed systems out of “ease of use” or “privacy” concerns, but anyone who was hoping to manage the iPhone and its contents with open and free (as in speech) software should probably give up hope now.
Requiring an iTunes account is a great way of getting people to consolidate their iPod/iPhone media. It effectively forces them to get organized and takes the guesswork out of the question “how to I get my videos and music onto my iPhone?”. Is it a little extreme for Apple/AT&T to require an iTunes account? It might look that way to some, but the truth is, the reason that Apple’s products work so well is because of the strict control of both software and hardware.
If the iPhone were only available for OS X users, then it’s obvious that there wouldn’t be any iTunes requirements, because OS X users would already have iTunes. Considering that there will probably be a lot of Windows users in the mix of iPhone buyers, Apple needed to bring it’s little ecosystem with it so its newest organism can live healthy.
Call it absurd, a ‘lock-in’, strict, over-controlling… the truth is, it would be careless to simply release the iPhone without providing any sort of environment with which to use the device.
This is the other idea I’ve seen floating around (Business 2.0):
This makes me wonder whether AT&T stores will be signing people up with iTunes accounts as they purchase iPhones and calling plans. Some people who buy iPhones might not be interested in purchasing and downloading content from iTunes (they might want to just load content they already own), and the occasional iPhone buyer might not have convenient access to a PC or Mac that’s capable of running the latest version of iTunes (7.2). I’ve got to wonder whether this will cause any challenges at retail.
This also is an absurd idea. Steve Jobs has even admitted in past keynotes that (I think) over 90% of the music in most people’s iTunes libraries is not purchased from the iTunes Store. No one is forcing anyone to buy from the iTunes Store.
But remember, for video to be playable on the iPhone, it’s going to have to be in Apple’s H.264 format – and I’ll bet there’s going to be a lot of people willing to at least buy a few compatible pieces of media from the iTunes Store. The other group of iPhone customers are going to be the type that figure out how to convert their existing videos with programs like Handbrake and iSquint.
For the geeks out there who are more comfortable using other ways to import media onto their digital devices, I’m sure there are already developers writing custom plugins and programs that will allow them to work around using iTunes.