Apple breaks playlist sharing

Apple, the company that likes to "Think Different," followed predictable thinking and disabled its playlist sharing feature in the latest release of the iTunes software.

Version 4.0.1, which can be downloaded through the Software Update system preference pane, offers performance and network enhancement plus support for Dolby Advanced Audio Codec (AAC). But it only permits music sharing between computers using iTunes 4.0.1 or later on a LAN in the same subnet.

The former version of the software enabled iTunes 4.0 users to share each other's playlists over the Internet. You could give another user from anywhere access to your playlist by entering their IP address in the Advanced Menu's "Connect to Shared Music" option.

The 4.0 version offered no in-built way for iTunes users to download one another's music files. Third party software was needed to record the remote stream and download files off the play list. The fact that this feature was seen as such a potential piracy threat contradicted the evident success of Apple's iTunes Music Store.

The iTunes store also proved that although many users can download free files off a playlist - or Kazaa - they are still willing to purchased authorized music files for a price.

Version 4.0.1 moves this ball forward by supporting direct browsing and purchasing from the store. However, dumbing down the software's ability to allowing sharing of any kind of data shows that Apple is willing to offer users a lesser product in order to make nice with the entertainment industry.

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Ann Harrison

Network World
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