When we think of the smartphones and MP3 players that are compatible with iTunes, the iPhone and iPod are probably the only things that come to mind. But that's not totally right. There are actually some MP3 players made by companies other than Apple that are compatible with iTunes.
To take things even further, did you know that many smartphones, with assistance from some add-on software, can also sync music with iTunes? Read on to learn all about the non-Apple devices that are compatible with iTunes.DavidGoh/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images
What Does iTunes Compatibility Mean?
Being compatible with iTunes can mean two things: being able to sync content to an MP3 player or smartphone using iTunes, or being able to play music purchased from the iTunes Store. This article only focuses on being able to sync content using iTunes.
To learn more about whether music bought at iTunes is compatible with non-Apple devices, check out How MP3 and AAC Are Different. If you think your syncing problems might be hardware and not vendor lock-in, Solving USB Connection Problems With MP3 Players may get you up and running.
All of the Current iTunes-Compatible MP3 Players
For many years, the only MP3 players that were compatible with iTunes were made by Apple. That wasn't always true: there was a short time in the early days of iTunes when there were a lot of options (more on that in the next section). More recently, a new crop of high-end MP3 players offer iTunes support. Thanks to the dominance of smartphones, relatively few traditional MP3 players are still being made, but the following devices do work with iTunes:Astell & Kern AK70Onkyo DP-X1Questyle QP1R DAPAstell & Kern AK JrPioneer XDP-300RSony Walkman NW-ZX2Flio X7PonoPlayerSony Walkman NWZ-A15
Discontinued MP3 Players That Were iTunes Compatible
The situation was different in the past, though. There were many more devices that worked with iTunes. In the early days of iTunes, Apple built support for a number of non-Apple devices into the Mac version of iTunes (the Windows version didn't support any of these players). Though these devices couldn't play or sync music bought from the iTunes Store, they did work with MP3s managed through iTunes and acquired from other sources.
The non-Apple MP3 players that were compatible with iTunes were:Creative LabsNakamichiNikeSONICBlue/S3
Nomad IISoundSpace 2
psa]play 60Rio OneNomad II MGpsa]play120Rio 500Nomad II cRio 600Nomad JukeboxRio 800Nomad Jukebox 20GBRio 900Nomad Jukebox CRio S10Novad MuVoRio S11Rio S30SRio S35SRio S50Rio ChibaRio FuseRio CaliRioVolt SP250RioVolt SP100RioVolt SP90
All of these MP3 players are now discontinued. Support for them still exists in some older versions of iTunes. Those versions are years out of date at this point and that support will vanish when you upgrade iTunes.
The HP iPod
There's one other interesting footnote to iPod history that features a non-Apple MP3 player that worked with iTunes: the HP iPod. In 2004 and 2005, Hewlett-Packard licensed the iPod from Apple and sold iPods with the HP logo. Because these were true iPods just with a different logo, they were compatible with iTunes. The HP iPods were discontinued in 2005.
Why iTunes Doesn't Support Non-Apple Devices
Conventional wisdom might suggest that Apple should want iTunes to support the largest number of devices to get the most users for iTunes and the iTunes Store. While this makes some sense, it doesn't fit with how Apple prioritizes its businesses.
The iTunes Store and the content available there is not the primary thing Apple wants to sell. Rather, Apple's top priority is to sell hardware — like iPods and iPhones — and it uses the easy availability of content at iTunes to do that. Apple makes the vast majority of its money on hardware sales. The profit it gets for selling a single iPhone is more than the profit for selling hundreds of songs at iTunes.
If Apple were to allow non-Apple hardware to sync with iTunes, consumers might buy non-Apple devices. That's something Apple wants to avoid whenever possible.
Devices With iTunes Compatibility Blocked By Apple
In the past, there were some devices that could sync with iTunes out of the box. The streaming software company Real Networks and portable hardware maker Palm offered software that made other devices iTunes compatible. For instance, the Palm Pre could sync with iTunes by pretending to be an iPod when it communicated with iTunes. Because of Apple's drive to sell hardware, the company updated iTunes a number of times to block this feature. After being blocked multiple times, Palm abandoned those efforts.
Software That Adds iTunes Compatibility
As we've seen, iTunes only supports syncing with a small number of non-Apple MP3 players. But, there are a number of programs that can add to iTunes to allow it to communicate with Android phones, Microsoft's Zune MP3 player, older MP3 players, and other devices. If you have one of those devices and want to use iTunes to manage your media, check out these programs:DoubleTwist Sync (syncs Android devices)iSyncr (syncs Android devices)iTunes Agent (syncs MP3 players on Windows)iTunes Fusion (syncs MP3 players, Android devices, Windows Phone, and Blackberry on Windows)iTuneMyWalkman (syncs MP3 players on Mac)TuneSync (syncs Android devices).