iTunes Sucks. A Rational Discussion

by @edent | , , , , , , | 8 comments | Read ~755 times.

I've largely stayed out of the Apple sphere of influence. I'm stuck on Windows XP at work and use Ubuntu at home.

The first - and last - Apple product I owned was a blueberry iMac.

Terence holding a very old iMac
I think it may have had an early version of OS X on it. It was fun enough, but I eventually replaced the OS with YellowDog.

Now I find myself in possession of a 16GB iPhone 3G. Nice! Or so I thought.

Lots of iPhone in a box

For various dull reasons, the iPhone is an unlocked Portuguese model. It was simplicity itself to set it to UK English and add my APN details etc. That's where the fun & simplicity stopped.

I thought I'd try the fabled AppStore. Download a few free apps and the like - and thus the nightmare of "The-One-True-Apple-Way" descended on me.

First of all, all the apps were priced in €. I would have thought me manually setting the phone to UK & having a UK SIM in there & being on a UK network would have convinced Apple to price things in £. Not so.

When I tried to download a free app I was told to enter my iTunes account information. This was problematic for two reasons
1) It was a free app. On every other device I've ever owned I can click on a free app and install it without giving away so much as an email address.
2) I don't have an iTunes account. As far as I can determine, there's no way to obtain one from the phone.

This is meant to be a super-duper converged smartphone but apparently it can't even handle a simple sign up process.

It turns out that the only way to get an iTunes account is to install the iTunes software. Again, this is problematic.
1) Not everyone has - or wants - a computer. Apple has drastically cut its user base for no reason as far as I can see.
2) Not everyone who has a computer has sole use of it. You might not be able to install iTunes on your work computer. If you & your family share a computer, how does iTunes handle multiple accounts?
3) How do you get the software? There's no CD in the box, the iPhone doesn't show up as a USB hard disk, so the software can't stored on there like the Huawei/Vodafone 810.

So, off to the website to download iTunes.
It's nearly 70MB! How the 40% of people without broadband are meant to grab this I have no idea.

The installation process was another of Apple's famed usability triumphs...

Text from an iTunes screen overflowing its bounds

I can't choose my native language - "English (British)". I can't even trust it not to break Outlook.

An error message telling me to close Outlook

It spent ~20 minutes installing the software, agreeing to two separate EULAs, only to be greeted by this screen.

iTunes in German

So much for my language preferences.

Oh well, let's ignore that. Let's sign up for an account.

More German text


All the settings on my computer are set to UK, iTunes is set to English. My physical location is in the UK but I go through a proxy in Germany.

Would it be beyond the wit of Apple's usability guru's to add a "Choose Your Country" option? Apparently so.

It also turns out that Apple insist that their products look like OS X apps even when they run on Windows XP. Great, yet another interface language to learn. I'm sure that Apple's products are the most amazing in the world - but this looks out of place on my system. Why should I have to mould myself to Apple? Shouldn't they work for my needs? No, silly grasshopper, The-One-True-Apple-Way has one path that all must adhere to or face certain death.

At this point, I got bored. If was a paying customer, I'd be on the verge of returning the device.

I'm obviously missing the gene that makes me fall in love with Apple products. Or is the rabid Apple fanboism just an elaborate hoax? Come on guys, let me in on the joke...

May be I'll try again tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “iTunes Sucks. A Rational Discussion

  1. Eschnou says:

    And you have not yet reached the point where the bloody piece of software reorganize your MP3s into one big file that you can't possibly move, destroying years of organizing things in neat folders ! Even worst on a Mac since due to user security, I can't even share my MP3s with my wife on the same machine !!!!

    Nothing beat folders and XMMS... I miss my PC... I hate my Mac... ho well... thanks for this rant ! I'm happy to read that I'm not alone !

  2. Benedict Evans says:

    You have a high-end device that's all about music and video. So yes, it needs broadband and a computer. This isn't a S40 Nokia - how many subs will want one but not have the other? And how well would the network hold up if everyone filled up their 16 gig of storage with OTA downloads?

    It got confused by your (pretty unusual) corporate internet setup. How many consumers will run into that?

    It tethers to the Desktop in a way that S60 doesn't. No OTA firmware upgrades, for example, and no Bluetooth syncing at all. The result is far less complexity and fiddly menus than an S60, and one settings app instead of half a dozen. Would you actually prefer to enter a credit card and billing address directly on the phone? Well, yes, I know YOU would, but really...

    And the installer lacked a little superficial polish (but worked just fine). Anything that Syncs with Outlook needs to restart it - even Hotsync.

    I'd suggest you try evaluating this as though you were the target market - people who don't run Ubuntu, and who place a much higher value on not having to fiddle than on being able to fiddle. This thing is very popular - try working out why, instead of listing why 'tis the wrong device for you 😉

  3. Terence Eden says:

    Why does it need a computer? On my N95 8GB I download loads music using MusicStation over UMTS (see earlier blog posts). That's as data intensive as iTunes. On my BlackBerry Bold, I donwload large podcasts and video casts over WiFi. I think you can even do that with the iPhone. So why tether me to a computer?

    There is nothing at start up that the iPhone needs the computer for. Seriously, apart from firmware (which can be done OTA - see Android and S60) why do I need a computer to operate my phone?

    Having a proxy in a country other than where you live isn't that uncommon. Geo-IP location is not very accurate at the best of times. Even a "Wrong Country" click here would have saved a lot of my frustration.

    I agree that a lack of options makes things simpler but if you take the N95 8GB, it only requires desktop tethering for firmware updates - you can do absolutely everything else without going anywhere near a computer.

    What's so fiddly about entering a credit card on the iPhone? With its great big gorgeous touch screen. No worse than having a to do it at a computer and just as secure.

    The thing is, everything I did was a fiddle. Honestly, installing Ubuntu was quicker and less tricky and - at the end - it just worked!

    ....and breathe....

  4. qmacker says:

    I love my iPhone but I hate iTunes. If you're any way a saavy user who has more than one computer and a media library that you don't want bollocksed up, don't use iTunes. Then again, if youy have an iPod or iPhone you have no choice.

    This is one of the worst pieces of software I've ever seen. The list is so long, and I am too worn out to list the multitude of stupidities built into iTunes.

    Why, because I hooked up my IPhone to my laptop because I'm away from home and my desktop iTunes...why is ALL MY STUFF GONE? What kind of a stupid system is this? Why can't I'd ADD additional music from my laptop? I'm on the road, and I don't want to wipe everything out on the iPhone. Why did it delete the TomTom app that is 1.4GB that I downloaded while at home. After hooking up to the laptop iTunes, the TomTom app is gone.

    ITUNES SUCKS!!!!!!!

  5. Julie says:

    I got into the wrong countrey 3 weeks ago, i had to wait 'till my brother got back from England so that he could translate it for me on how to get back to english. Not cool!

    It totally wiped all of my purchases once my old ipod got replaced by an updated version, $300 of music, gone. Not cool. =[ Everything was organised into playlists, money was spent then i swich my ipod and plug it in. "enter email and password" "No itunes account registered to this email" "fuck you too"

    Was so not happy =[

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