Sunday, November 20, 2005

Wouldn't it be nice if iTunes...

I want iTunes (since I use it for music and short video) to store and manage on-demand feeds for Real Audio, Flash, Quicktime and Windows Media Player.

Here's why... when folks talk about web 2.0 and the internet as platform, they often predict that personal computing will be thin clients, meaning that people's computers won't need massive storage or processing power to do things because people can store information and applications online. All they need is a broadband connection nearer to today's theoretical speeds of 54-300 Mbs (in practice the US gets 1.5-2Mbs). In this world everything on demand is instant. Be it movies, mashup programs, or just home office tasks.

Yet part of this scenario has been around for years with a very poor tool to manage it. There are so many RealAudio feeds, particulary public radio, that is on-demand. Video is become more present. But one of the conditions is that these feeds are streaming, so you can't save it on your computer. But if there was a better way to manage these feeds, you probably don't want to save them on you computer, but I often think it'd be nice to go back to them. These feeds need a thin client, and I think iTunes is perfect for it.

As mentioned above, I use iTunes for music and short video. Sometimes iTunes will save internet radio feeds (KWLC), and it also saves PDF files, and this is my point. PDFs in iTunes open in Preview (for Macs). Why couldn't iTunes save these other feeds and open them in Real Audio or Windows Media. Not that I like I using them, but there is a lot of good content. If iTunes managed them, I would rely even more on iTunes.

Think about the iTunes Music store, it's a webpage embedded into iTunes, meaning the iTunes becomes a very specific web browser. Why not add the ability to bookmark some feeds, and play them like a browser plug-in? Who needs a TV tuner or a "radio tivo" if iTunes better managed the on-demand content already available? It's easy to do this with podcasts. Some sites, perhaps too risky to show up in ITMS, have feeds that subscribe you to their podcasts. I think this is an easy lateral step.


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