Please see the UPDATE to this article.
While Apple’s new iPod - announced on October 12 - is not yet available, iTunes 6.0 is already out. Unlike iTunes 5, which caused a host of minor and major problems for folks with PCs, iTunes 6.0 appears to be less dangerous. I've installed it successfully on two PCs running Windows XP – including one that had suffered badly from an iTunes 5 installation. But I am seeing some panicked posts on Apple’s support forum. So if all is well with your current installtion, I see keep it. But if iTunes 5 messed up your PC, you might as well give 6.0 a try. I don't think you have much (more) to lose.
Some good news for people who don't like digital rights management - protected AAC songs that have been "scrubbed" of Apple's FairPlay DRM with the free JHymn application still play in iTunes 6. That is, Apple either couldn't or chose not to make any changes that would prevent iTunes from playing the files. No word yet on whether or not songs purchased from Rhapsody and converted to FairPlay will work on the new iPod. Matt Graves at Rhapsody says they won't know until they get an iPod and try it out - probably sometime next week.
ITunes 6 also gives you the ability to "give" a song to a friend. You can select any track on the iTunes Music Store and purchase it on behalf of someone (who gets a message with instructions on how to download it). Kinda cool. But as we know, there are easier ways to give a song to a friend: both the not-so-legal way of sending them an MP3 and the method I like – encouraging them to sign up for a streaming music service (Rhapsody, Yahoo, or Napster) and letting them listen to whatever they want, including your suggestions.
And then there's video.
I downloaded an episode of Desperate Housewives and found it pretty good (the video quality, that is). I recommend configuring iTunes to open the video up in a separate QuickTime window so you can view it at a decent size onscreen. (Edit>>Preferences>>Playback. Check "Play videos" and select "in a separate window.") But don't get too carried away with the window size. The resolution isn't high enough for full-screen play.
Even if you don't think you have bought any videos yet, you may have. An album download of the White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan that I bought a little while ago included a video for the song "White Orchid." (Good that it came for free, because I sure wouldn't have paid for it.)
Frankly, the selection of videos isn't too great now: Some music videos, if you're into that, and a few episodes of a few TV shows.
I'm betting on the non-Apple market to provide the real content. I don't think I'm going out on a limb by predicting a video podcast boom. My guess is that short-subject films will do a lot better on handhelds than 45-minute TV episodes. In addition to future podcasts, there is a wealth of great video (lots of it short subject) online already - from sources like Akimbo, Brigthcove, DaveTV, and (especially) iFilm. I've asked all those companies about iPod/iTunes compatibility. No definitive word yet, but some interesting hints.
Josh Goldman, CEO of Akimbo says:
As of now, our video is delivered in WM9 format, however our system was designed to be able to send video in any format depending on the characteristics of the device.
Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Brightcove, says:
We think this is very positive, I can't comment on any specific relationship with Apple.
Brightcove's service is format agnostic for downloads, so you can expect to see us supporting MPEG-4 that is Apple compatible.
Oliver Eberle, CIO of DaveTV, says:
We haven't approached Apple about content yet, btw. Most of our content is in wmv format and would need to be converted.
ITunes supports Apple's QuickTime and the nonproprietary MPEG-4 formats. Not surprisingly, it does not support Real Video or Microsoft's Windows Media Video format.
No word yet from iFilm, but they already offer videos in all three main formats: QuickTime, Real Video, and Windows Media Video.
Hmmm…We'll see what happens. But I'm sure a lot more is coming…