Having written just the other day why I view the iPad as an appliance or a gadget rather than a personal computer (my judgement revolved around limits to what the user is able to do with the device), I found myself limited by iTunes 10.4 running on Mac OS X Lion.

The problem surfaces for two reasons.  I dislike iTunes because it’s clunky and painful to use, and I dislike iTunes because it seems to limit how I deal with digital music – I like to choose the file format in ways that iTunes appears not to like, for example.  Anyway, I investigated removing iTunes, and it turns out OS X throws a bit of a wobbly when you try this, claiming that it’s required by OS X.  Now, I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but even having found a method of doing this I thought it better not to try (most such efforts are a prelude to making a clean reinstallation).  I don’t synchronise my iPad to my MacBook, and I’ve recently replaced an iPod Touch with a more reasonable device from Cowon (review part 1, part 2) partly to get away from iTunes.

No matter, I thought, I’ll simply assign the default application for opening audio files such as mp3 to Songbird, and that’ll deal with the issue or iTunes opening every time I open an mp3 file.  Well, I can report that on my MacBook at least, iTunes refuses to relinquish its role as the audio player foisted upon me by Apple.

Irritated, I had a bit of a Google about, and found recommendations to try an application called RCDefaultApp.  This seems to over-ride the iron grip of Cupertino and forces iTunes to take a back seat!  The whole episode does seem to reek rather of control-freakery and reminds me of one’s inability to remove Internet Explorer from Windows.  I do wonder how required iTunes really is for OS X…and whether this is symptomatic of a move of OS X towards the iOS way of working.