There was some discussion over the weekend about this but I didn't look into it. Now I have. And I'm pretty unhappy about it.
1. The music selection on iTunes sucks. Modern music is hit or miss. They had the new Orb album, but not the 50 first dates soundtrack. Their 80's selection, on the other hand, leaves a very great deal to be desired. My luck with 80's songs has been about 1 in every 5 searches.
2. iTunes locks you into a pay per play model. If you own an ipod you will never be able to engage in a Rhapsody style subscription model. Jobs is almost religiously opposed to that model. This means that you can't really explore iTunes in search of music that they do have that you might like but haven't heard before. The only real opportunity for that is the Celebrity playlists, which I went through in about an hour when I first loaded the thing up. You won't be able to find the song you want, and you won't learn about new songs that you might like.
3. Apple will never allow any other legal music stores to sell songs for their player. Apple wants a cut of every song that gets sold for their player even though they claim to be taking a loss on iTunes overall and making the money back on selling iPods. This is totally irrational. They are loosing money selling songs, and they are reducing the value of their players by not letting anyone else sell songs for them.
4. Apple has significantly reduced the value of your iPod investment. You will never be able to get all of the songs that you want for your iPod legally unless you continue to buy those old fashioned plastic disks. A competitor in the Windows space will put out a player which is capable of playing songs sold on any music service, and people who buy that player will be able to buy the music they want within the business model that they want. Ultimately, the iPod will look pretty lame when compared to it's Windows alternative, because they'll be downloading all the cool new songs which you won't be able to enjoy unless you hoof it out to the last remaining CD store in your town which hangs on by a thread and mostly sells to Mac users and people who need things on vinyl.
5. Apple has invoked the DMCA to prevent interoperability with their technology. Using a bad law in a bad way ought to be a strike against them.
6. Apple has made a very serious strategic error here that will not only undue their present leadership role in this space, but which damages the investments that their customers have made. This is the reason I didn't own a Mac back in the day. This is the Apple that built a closed platform that didn't interoperate very well with anything and couldn't be taken apart and played with. This is the old Apple. They're back. And they suck.
I'm really unhappy about this.
Why iPod owners should be angry at Apple over the Real case.