When it comes to buying a computer the longstanding stereotypes were:
Windows = Business, gamers, everyday people.
Mac = Creative, artistic, writers, photographers, people who do the "snap-clap" at poetry jams.
Linux = Geeks, counter-culture revolutionaries.
Unix = Servers.
These days these stereotypes are shifting. With the invention (and marketing) of the iPod, Apple has seen a large upswing in sales and revenue. In fact, since they switched over to Intel chips to power their computers they've gained an additional 1% of the PC market! The iPod "halo" is here.
Apple marketing has never been something to sneeze at. If you ask someone what is "cooler" a Mac or a PC they will invariably tell you the Mac is cooler. They may not be able to say why, but you know... it's all about the marketing.
Apple marketing is so good that if they sold toilets, people would buy them.
"Hey, check this out over here."
"What, your bathroom?"
"Not just any bathroom, check out the Apple iToilet I just got!"
"Oh man, that is sweet! Does it play mp3 files while you sit or something?"
"No, but it does have a way cool Apple logo on the seat!"
You might be wondering, "what does Apple marketing have to do with iTunes on Linux?" Well, I'm getting to that.
Linux has come a long way. With distributions such as Knoppix, which allow you to drop a CD in your drive and boot straight into Linux, and user-friendly distributions such as Ubuntu Linux is 99% ready for the common user.
Word processing? Use OpenOffice
Playing DVDs? Use Kaffeine
Play mp3s? Use XMMS
I've got this one application that only works in Windows... Try wine or crossover Office.
Web browsing? Please! Use FireFox and Thunderbird for your email!
File and printer sharing? Use CUPS and Samba.
Pretty much anything you want to use your computer for can be done with Linux... except iTunes.
The market share for Windows is huge. No one denies that. The true numbers may be questionable as we don't know how many of those Windows machines are still in use nor how many have been scrubbed clean and had a new OS installed on them.
One big thing is changing, the Windows Vista EULA. Windows XP introduced us to the WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) software. Advantage for who? Microsoft? I see no advantage. WGA is just an anti-piracy tool.
Have you ever had a hard drive failure and had to re-install Windows on your machine? Did it complain that the key was no longer good? Have you ever had a friend bring their computer to you to fix after a hard drive failure but they no longer have their Windows XP disks so you try one of yours only to be told their key will not work with your software because it came from a different OEM?
Well, Vista is worse. According to the new Vista EULA you are only ever allowed to sell the software once and move it to a new computer once. This is bad news for the power gamers who constantly upgrade their machines. It's also bad news if your hard drive fails or if you replace your motherboard.
Apple sees this, and they are happy. They are not worried about pirated copies of OSX. OSX only works on Macs. Macs are only available from Apple. There is no vast see of Mac clones out there for people to use pirated copies of OSX on. Apple owns the Mac market.
So, what does all of this have to do with iTunes and Linux?
iTunes and the iPod are the gateway products to the Mac world. People buy an iPod and use iTunes. When it comes time to buy a new computer they look and see Windows Vista, Mac OSX and Linux. iTunes will work on Vista or the Mac, but not Linux. If the consumer has purchased a large number of iTunes DRMed files they will want to preserve their investment by buying a computer that will allow them to access those files. So the choice becomes Windows vs. Mac.
Apple has their "boot camp" package which will allow you to run windows on a Mac. OSX is also based on BSD (a version of Unix) and is very stable. Even though Linux can be configured to behave (and look) like a Windows box or an OSX box people will move to the Mac as their next computer. OSX has all the glamour of being from Apple and the stability of being built on Unix. Many Linux applications are either available for OSX or easily ported to run on OSX.
Now, why would Apple want to port iTunes to Linux? iTunes+iPod *is* their killer app. People want it! Given the choice between buying a new Windows, Mac or Linux PC I think many people will be brought in under the shiny halo of Apple marketing and buy a Mac.
This is not like the browser wars of the 90's where you give away your browser to gain market dominance. Apple's iTunes already has the market dominance, now it's time to capitalize on that dominance by bringing people into the Mac world, one new PC at a time...
I have tried to use iTunes with wine and have been able to install both it and quicktime. When I run iTunes it complains that it needs Windows 2003 SP4 or newer. It does install though and that is a start!