It seems that Apple is becoming much more aggressive with proprietary software protection for its latest iPods. The newest iPods are locked to iTunes only through the use of new SHA1 hashes that are added to the beginning of the iPod’s database that keep track of the content stored on the iPod.
The iTunes update locks the iPod’s database to one specific iPod, meaning that iTunes must be used to add content to your iPod. Any attempt to change the database by accessing it with another program causes the iPod to read that it has zero content on it.
This spells the end of iPod users’ ability to use programs other than iTunes to download content to their iPods. Apple is becoming far more stringent about the DRM rights of the iPod platform. Some see it has a power play by Apple to close gaps which have allowed iPod users access to other programs and providers to download music or content to their iPods.
While iTunes is available for the Windows and Mac platforms, this change leaves Linux users with iPods out in the cold. It is sad to see Apple becoming so proprietarily focused on limiting the iPod, as it has become the standard for digital music players.
In the end, we doubt that it will hurt Apple much, but we can see some future iPod customers and iPod upgraders seeking older units to try to avoid being locked into iTunes exclusively. We suspect, however, that Apple will extend this database locking to older models, as well, at some point through a firmware update.