I have an admission to make. I'm getting a bit angry at my iPod. It's not due to any battery life problem, or synching glitch or cracked screen. My iPod works just fine, and I am as addicted to using it as are many other iPod owners. The problem is that it's making me sick of some of my music.
Let me explain. I love music, and own a lot of it, by most measures. Much of it is on my 30-gig iPod. I've got 2,142 songs loaded, ranging from Bach to Bob Dylan to Betty Carter to Brave Combo. Still, I often find myself skipping more songs than I listen to on my commutes, where I do most of my listening. For a while, going into shuffle mode helped--you know, the whole Random effect. But that didn't last. Indeed, I increasingly find I'm using my iPod mostly for listening to podcasts. That gives me something new to listen to every few days, whether its tech news or otherwise.
What's happening is that the deeper I get into digital music, the more I demand the ability to track down music I know but don't own, and to discover new music. Personally, I don't "steal" music; I've never downloaded anything from a file-sharing site, and don't plan to start now. Instead, I subscribe to Real Networks' Rhapsody service, which lets me listen to pretty much whatever I want. (While my tastes are broad, they must not be terribly deep--since I tend to find almost everything I want on this service). Since I began paying for Rhapsody, I hardly ever even open my iTunes library while working at my PC. And with today's news that Rhapsody subscribers can listen in via the Net, I also won't need my iPod in the office; I pulled up the new Web-based Rhapsody this morning, and it's working fine. (For some reason, the Rhapsody client didn't work through our corporate firewall, but this does).
Plus, I've got an extra advantage being a business reporter: I'm currently test-driving Sonos Networks' Digital Music System, which lets me wirelessly pipe music from Rhapsody to any room in the house. The combination is terrific. While the Sonos system is too expensive at $1500 or so (for my wife, at least; I'm tempted to splurge), I certainly think this could be a primary way I'll be getting music in the future. At least in my home, the much discussed "celestial jukebox in the sky" pretty much exists.
To me, the upshot is that I think Apple needs to move more aggressively to let people get more music in more ways. No doubt, I don't want to part with my iPod, and judging from Apple's market share, I'm far from alone. But there are some reports that momentum for the music downloads business is slowing. Certainly, this music fans' purchases from iTunes have slowed a bit.
Of course, Macworld is coming up on Jan. 10, so Apple may well have something wonderful up its sleeve. If not then, I hope it comes soon, or the limitations of the iPod experience could become even more apparent. After all, as Steve Jobs always says, at the end of the day it's all about the music.