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There are numerous alternatives to the iTunes® store, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and each available on a number of different computer platforms. These alternatives typically allow similar functionality to what is available through iTunes®, allowing a person to organize and manage his or her iPod®, as well as tagging songs and streaming digital Internet radio to his or her player. Some popular examples of alternatives to the iTunes® store are Winamp®, SharePod, and MediaMonkey.
With its integration of hardware, software, and lifestyle image, Apple® found significant success with the release of the iPod® and the implementation of the iTunes® store for users to purchase music and manage the songs on their player. Some iPod® users, however, do not care for iTunes® and want an alternative to the iTunes® store and its systems for media management. A number of different companies and software programs have answered this call by providing these alternatives to computer users.
These few examples are in no way comprehensive and are only a sample of the programs that can be found and used for iPod® management. Winamp® is a program that has been available for more than a decade and provides an audio and video player for Windows® users. More recent versions of the program have also included iPod® support, and it can be used to manage songs and playlists, as well as synchronize a player with various podcasts and streaming services. With hundreds of customized skins and add-ons, Winamp® provides a useful alternative to the iTunes® store and a great deal of flexibility for any computer user.
SharePod is a program that can be run directly from an iPod® itself, allowing someone who does not have the administrative access necessary to install a program onto a computer to still use it. While some people looking for alternatives to the iTunes® store may find it somewhat restrictive and limited in its functionality, for basic users it can satisfy most of their fundamental iPod® needs. It is simple and easy to use, but does not offer the wide range of options other programs showcase.
MediaMonkey is another of the alternatives and allows for a high level of functionality and personalization for a user. While advanced users will likely appreciate the numerous functions and options allowed by the program, some users may find it overwhelming. Ultimately, individual users will have to find the program that is right for them, finding the optimum combination of intuitive layouts and flexibility when looking for alternatives to the iTunes® store.