Over the past couple of days, there’s been a couple of articles on the web criticising Apple’s iTunes. Yesterday, I linked to ExtremeTech‘s article about why WMA is a good audio format (and why iTunes should support it) and today Jason Snell at MacWorld posted an editorial weblog entry about (thanks to Breaking Windows for the second link).
I think Apple could silence many of their critics with just one new feature: plugins. Winamp has them. Windows Media Player has them. And most other media players let you add extra formats via codecs. With a good plugin architecture, third-party developers could add extra formats, and bring extra audio formats to the program. The second is important because in not being able to play Ogg Vorbis, and especially WMA, iTunes is marginalising itself in the PC arena. If iTunes could play WMA then you could play all those files that the iTunes Music Store doesn’t sell but are available elsewhere (and perhaps available cheaper too, although that perhaps underlines why Apple hasn’t added WMA support).
But “hey!”, you’re thinking, “QuickTime can already accept additional audio formats”. Yes, it can. But the fact that there’s no widely available additional codecs for it probably means that Apple has either made it too difficult to develop codecs that integrate with QT or is reluctant to encourage people to create extensions in this way.
Winamp can now play almost every audio format under the sun thanks to an open plugin architecture that allows additional codecs to integrate seamlessly with the application. If iTunes could do the same then I’m sure more people would switch, perhaps myself included. In the meantime, I’m sticking to dBpowerAMP which can already play a long list of formats, Ogg and WMA included.