updated 01:25 pm EDT, Thu September 21, 2006
Apple pulls further ahead
Apple continues to distance itself from competitors with a slew of "small but pleasing" improvements, according to one columnist. "For now, fans can take solace in the fact that the creme de la creme of portable media devices has only gotten richer," wrote Edward C. Baig of USA Today. Apple's new iPod offerings, combined with its revamped iTunes software -- which has recently seen widespread criticism from both Mac as well as Windows users -- combine to place the market-leading Cupertino-based company further ahead of competitors struggling to seize some of its share. While Apple did not fulfill every desire on the wishlist of many industry watchers, most agree that the company delivered a satisfactory helping of product announcements and software revisions, coupled with its surprise iTV debut -- a device that wirelessly streams content from a computer to a TV.
iTunes 7, which was released as a free update alongside Apple's addition of full-length movies to its iTunes Music Store, offers users numerous new features designed to ease navigation while improving usability. The updated version includes a download manager that allows broken downloads to resume without starting from the beginning, and enables users to browse through playlists using "Album Cover Flow" -- a new technology which merges the effect of Apple's size-changing Dock icons and iChat's black reflective surface -- to present virtual album cover art.
Apple announced during its special event in San Francisco that iTunes software holds an 88 percent share of legal U.S. downloads, selling more than 1.5 billion songs since its introduction. This ultimately ranks iTunes as the fifth largest reseller of music in the U.S. Baig admits Apple has a few kinks to work out in its recent introduction, but believes the company has succeeded in putting even more distance between itself and rivals as it maintains its unchecked dominance.