Despite the lack of Independent labels at the iTunes Music Store in the UK, over half (57 per cent) of Macworld readers voting in this week's poll are satisfied with the service.
With 39 per cent of Macworld readers describing the store as "Impressive. I'll definitely use it", and another 18 per cent even more delighted saying "Wow! Goodbye CDs" it looks like Apple has a hit.
However, the remaining 44 per cent of the 1,545 voters described the store as either: "Hmmm. Not enough tracks available" (35 per cent), or "Rubbish. CDs, vinyl and cassettes rule" (9 per cent).
It's not just that Apple's taste in music doesn't appear to match ours. The Store has been plagued by issues since it opened here last Tuesday. For many readers payment problems and registration difficulties have marred their first experiences of the store.
One reader writes: "28 hours from launch, and it is still rejecting my perfectly valid, in-credit, Switch card account that is even accepted by the regular Apple UK store."
Another claims: "My credit cards are being debited whenever I try to buy – but no music is forthcoming. Apple support suggested that my credit-card company was blocking the transaction, but this is not true. Frankly there are bugs in the system that must be addressed ASAP."
Other readers haven't got far enough with the iTunes Music Store experience to find out whether they can pay.
A number of readers have had problems signing up to the Store. Following the launch it was not recognizing London postcodes. One reader says: "The Store is refusing to accept my postcode is in the UK, so I can't register. I sent a message via the feedback form on the Web site explaining that even though I'm in the UK, the Store is telling me it's not available in my region. This evening they replied, telling me they're very sorry, but the Store is only available in the UK."
Other readers consider themselves in the UK, but Apple disagrees. The Store will not currently support customers in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Another reason why some readers feel locked out of iTunes is their Internet connection. "There's just one little thing that's stopping me at the moment. I only have a 56K connection so I'm concerned that an album would take ages to download – I reckon a whole album of those would take all night," says one.
Release the Indies
The other major complaint is the limited music selection. Although Apple is claiming to have 700,000 tracks in each of the three European countries where the service has launched, the lack of indie labels has dismayed many of Apple's potential customers – some have even gone to the lengths of placing their own "Release the Indies" iMixes on the iTunes site.
However, not everyone feels the selection is so incomplete. One said: " On the surface there doesn't seem to be that many tracks, but delve deep past the featured artists and exclusives and there's more than enough gems to keep us going for the time being. Most of Hendrix, The Who, Clapton and Stevie Wonder's back catalogues are there. Who needs the latest indie releases right now when you can download the masters?"
Another predicts: "The selection of music will obviously get better. Obviously it can be improved, but I think we have seen the future."
The price is another bugbear of many users. For some the £7.99 album price is too much: "I can get most albums from CD-WOW for £1 more and have a real CD, album cover, inserts, and no DRM. So for me it is occasional and specific tracks," says one.
CDs versus downloads
The debate about the merits of the CD continues in the forums. One reader comments: "The price of an album is far too high. You don't get something real like a CD, nor will it last 50 years like a vinyl record. True, I can burn it to a CD and play it though a decent hi-fi, but it won't be as pleasing experience as one might hope. I'll buy an album for a pound or two more from the likes of Amazon or Play.com. It might take a day or two longer to arrive, but I can wait that. Then I can import it to iTunes in a matter of minutes at a far higher quality."
But another reader disagrees: "I don't care about having a real disc to hold. My collection of 250+ CDs just gathers dust and the sleeve notes are only of interest for the first couple of times I listen to a new album. I would much rather regain several shelves-worth of space by just having the bit I'm interested in - the music."
The iTunes Music Store solves one of the main issues many new iPod owners encounter – the time it takes to transfer music collections to iTunes. "I think that for the masses, especially the average iPod owner, this is a great service. It saves the hassle of importing a CD and any technical complications – in that regard Apple has the market cracked and will make a decent killing."
The magazine for iPod Users