from the very beginning, iTunes had a well-earned reputation as an insatiable resource hog with a major appetite for CPU cycles. now that i have hooked up the iPhone to my PC, iTunes has expanded its area of impact and also started gobbling up free hard disk space. the reason is the photo synchronization. because, of course, apple does not allow you to simply copy images to the iPhone. this would just be too convenient.
instead, you have to use a very ill-designed
photo sync dialog in iTunes, where you can select folders for synchronization with your iPhone. upon synchronization, iTunes will start
optimizing your pictures for the iPhone, there is no way you can simply have your pictures as they are. which is too bad, because with the cool zoom feature of the iPhone, it would be really good to have full-resolution pictures.
optimization (which is an excruciatingly slow process), you have quite a bit of hard disk space consumed by files which you will never use on your pc. for the 3'500 pictures i have sync'ed to my iPhone, iTunes created an
iPod Photo Cache folder with 2.2gb. the files are
ithmb files, a proprietary apple format which is of no use on the PC, and to make things worse and less transparent, they are organized into folders which have to connection with my original photo folders.
since iTunes is a classical monopoly product (if you want to use any of apple's fancy itoys, iTunes is what you have to use), apple does not really have to spend too much effort to make it good. you will use it anyway. so why bother.
now imagine an iPhone with an open approach, supporting either the only reasonable way of direct connection data management (being available as an usb drive when connecting to a computer) or a rather fancy way of advanced web data management (using something along the lines of google gears). on such a device, you could actually manage data the way you want (with the USB variant) or the way any web app chooses to do it (with the google gears approach). in either case, you would not be subjected to the limited methods and poor implementation of the data management pain that is iTunes.