Songbird Is Here… Mozilla Gives iTunes It’s First Real Competition…

Seems that the good folks who make FireFox have come up with a music browser they’ve named Songbird that they think will give iTunes a run… Now I like FireFox… A lot… In fact LCO is made to work best with FireFox and users of FireFox 2 are the highest percentage of visitors to LCO by far. And I like iTunes… A lot… And I’ve seen iTunes killers come and go. And even though it’s only been five years since we’ve been able to keep thousands and thousands of songs in the memory equivalent of a few CD’s… We keep looking at the horizon for the next great thing. Greedy buggers …aren’t we?

Well… There’s a glow on the horizon that holds some promise… It’s far from sunrise… But this Songbird has the makings of a great day to come.

But… Let’s deal with today.

I have almost 5000 songs in my iTunes library… And 400 and change are purchased from iTunes. In Fact… Most of the folks that I know with iTunes have over 1000 songs in their library… And Apple is now crowing about being the biggest U.S. music store … Did I mention the four iPods drifting around here?

I suspect that Songbird will come as close as anything to giving iTunes a legitimate competitor… I’ve read up on it and if it delivers as well as FireFox and incorporates the advertised features… It’s gonna be nice.

People are getting excited… Here’s a Video… They’re saying that Songbird will play music from most music stores and that they’re working on getting it compatible with iTunes… And being open source… I suspect that that will happen. sooner rather than later.

Making it compatible with my iPods was a good move… But since iTunes is ubiquitous to Macs and relatively easy to drop onto a Windows machine… I’m looking for some killer feature to compel me to load it onto some machine other than my experiment box… Let’s see…

Add – ons… These seem nice… So far there’s over 7 pages of them and they seem as easy to use as FireFox plug ins… This is what we’d get if Apple opened iTunes up to developers. But I’ve had a few bad experiences with Firefox Add-ons that resulted in my having to remove and reinstall the app. I would not be a happy camper if an add-on caused my music library to go bye-bye. The only time I’ve ever came close to wrecking my iTunes library was when I (illegally) downloaded a song that had a corrupted size count and hooned my directory. Nowadays… I pretty much stick to getting my music from places I can place blame on and complain to someone at. I’ve heard of people that have gotten Apple to allow them to re-download their entire purchased song list after serious crashes… So… That said… my mind can get around Apple’s reluctance to open up iTunes to outside developers as long as I feel that my precious music collection is unlikely to fall prey to some less than diligent but well meaning code jockey.

Feathers… Feathers is Skins… And there are some nice ones… iTunes’ grey frame hasn’t changed since day 1… I hear folks mentioning that they’d at least like a few skins… And I’d get some if they were easily and safely available. But I’ve gotten so used to the brushed metal thing that I can’t remember that I wouldn’t mind some color most days… Perhaps this is part of Apple’s underlying tenet that the machines and programs should be secondary to what you want to do with them… At any rate.. When I’m not fiddling around in my library… I’m running in reduced mode or full screen cover flow anyway.

Overall… I will say that I’m definitely intrigued… I’m already wondering how this thing would work installed on a 4 GB thumb drive… What if you could take it all with you?.. I mean run a copy of your own music browser on any machine you happen to be in front of? Maybe I’m getting too far out there … But there’s your killer feature… Hey… It’s open source… It’s in the realm of possibility.

There are lots of sites out there screaming iTunes Killer! Gizmodo and boing-boing are on the bandwagon… PC World, SiliconBeat and others are taking a more cautious note… You can count LCO in the “cautious” column… I loathe the thought of putting a promising newborn up against Godzilla before it even has teeth. But I am saying without reservation that I think that Songbird’s got a real shot at becoming the crown prince of the hill.. So far.. This is the only music app that has even made me raise an eyebrow as far as being a possible adjutant to iTunes… Look! I can’t even bring myself to write that any…and I mean ANY application stands a chance of utterly replacing iTunes.. But then again… Five years ago …I couldn’t imagine keeping 4 gigabytes of data on my keychain let alone dreaming that I’d have something as wonderful as iTunes itself.

As to major issues…

So far.. Nothing has caught my eye more than this nasty little surprise … Apparently… You can shrink Songbird right out of existence… I mean so far gone that the only way to get back in is to delete your entire profile…

I plan to put it on my Mac and Windows experiment boxes… Beat up on it and take a wait and see attitude.

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