Opinion Apple users have this nasty habit of dishing out vicious assaults when you don't want to hear them and staying awfully quiet when you'd like them to chirp up. No where is this pattern more evident than at the universities who have signed up for Napster's music rental service. These schools have run right over the famous Apple faithful, and the Mac addicts seem to enjoy the process.
Travel over to Cornell University, which is rolling out a one-year trial of Napster at this very moment. Neither Napster nor Cornell highlight that the service software only works with Windows XP and Windows 2000, but that's the fact of the matter. This policy will leave 20 percent of Cornell's students - most of them Mac users- unable to rent music on Napster.
One might hope Cornell and its student body would be concerned about this. The school has received corporate sponsorships to pay for the Napster trial, but it has warned that future Napster charges will be added to students' communications fees. Cornell expects the fees to amount to $20 per student per year - a figure well below Napster's $10 per month charge for the rest of us schmucks.
Cornell, however, can only muster mild concern for the 20 percent of its student body that will have to pay for the service and not be able to use it.
"I was actually surprised last year to learn that Napster is incompatible with Macs and iPods and other services -- I really think this is an important issue to work on this year as we evaluate Napster campus-wide," Erica Kagan, president of the Student Assembly told the Cornell Daily Sun.
The Student Assembly was the body that tested Napster last year. The word rigor does not come to mind when thinking about their testing process.
Any suggestion that a version of Napster for the Mac OS X operating system is on the way is false. Sources have said no such software has been considered at Napster, and competing service Ruckus said the music labels appear to be blocking all Mac OS X efforts.
But Kagan does not seem to be the one to blame for Cornell's failings. Napster zealot Nick Linder was president of the SA last year when the Napster deal was sealed. He told the school paper that services such as iTunes were considered but not picked because he found "the programs lacking in the services college students most want." Actually being able to use the service notwithstanding.
Are Mac users up in arms?
So far, only one ex-student has voiced any anger over Cornell's policy.
"I hope that all "other" operating system users on campus band together against yet another arm of the Microsoft monopoly," wrote Steve from the class of 1995 on a message board. "Apple just this month came out with a bulk music purchase program. Why can't the money be used to purchase tons of songs from iTunes that anybody can use?"
Cornell students aren't alone either. The Register discovered that 42 percent of students at Wright State University - another Napsterized school - can't use the music service they are forced to fund.
It's sad to see these schools enter the music business simply because the music labels' are threatening them with lawsuits. This surely doesn't send a good message to our youth. It's also sad that the schools promote services such as Napster with vacant business models behind them. What kind of business-minded undergraduates will this create? Another glut of glassy-eyed dot-com gimps, no doubt.
What's even worse though is the Apple faithful sitting back, enjoying their iPods with no concern for the bigger picture. They'll whine about Apple taking control of weather widgets or hacks bemoaning the high price of Apple gear. They'll flood reporters' inboxes with demands the the XServe be recognized as the powerhouse box that it is. But, when an Ivy League institution tramples all over them, nothing but apathy appears. Shocking? Hardly. ®
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