My friend and fellow columnist Phil Baker writes about Apple’s new iPod in his San Diego column, but he also points out a serious problem with the company’s new iTunes software, something I have experienced myself. Phil points out that it’s not just a minor glitch but something affecting lots of users:
Apple also introduced a new version of iTunes 5.0 that offers a number of new features including faster searching, Outlook syncing and parental control. However, when I tried upgrading my iTunes running on a PC, the installation failed and I cannot access my iTunes. Based on Apple discussion groups, many are experiencing the same problem. (Of course, I checked only after I had the problem!) So hold off for now before upgrading, at least on PCs. Apple needs to come up with a fix and fast.
This kind of thing scares me. It scares me because we don’t yet grasp how fragile our music collection has become. Before we had a pile of CDs we could always go back to if our tapes, MP3s or burned CDs gave up the ghost. Nowadays our music collection may be just in the form of MP3 files, and what happens to them if something goes wrong? What happens if MP3 software (or a system crash, a hard drive error, or a stray catheter) corrupts your files, your tags, or your authorisation and proof of purchase? At what point do we say, “forget this, I’m not going to pay for anything that doesn’t come in some physical form I can stash on a shelf”?