@Redcarmoose: Don't get me wrong, I dislike software. I would say I strongly dislike Windows because it has a nasty habit of forcing me to restart my OS when I'm in the middle of a game. "You didn't need me for the next 10 minutes, right?" There are dozens of apps that I dislike for varying reasons but I don't think I truly hate any of them.
However, many of the complaints I hear about iTunes are completely valid. However, at least on the Mac, nothing compares. There are programs that will do a better job of audio playback, as well as support more open-source formats, but the problem is none of them organize tracks as easily as iTunes or integrate with devices like the iPhone as easily as iTunes.
In an ideal world, I'd love to see a program that had all the management features of iTunes with the audio-playback capabilities of something like Audirvana that used the iTunes Library file. That way I could use it for my day-to-day audio playback and just use iTunes for syncing. of my devices. However, no such app exists.
@domino584: I can think of a number of benefits it offers music lovers. Chiefly is a way to easily manage and organize music on a Mac in a clean, powerful way. Playback could be better, agreed, but that is just one factor of any application. It's like hating an BMW M3 simply because it has no second set of doors. It's a valid complaint, but that doesn't mean you say the entire car is a piece of crap. iTunes is a very large piece of software with a large number of features, only some of which deal with playing music.
Personally, had I my druthers Apple would split out the various components (audio, video, apps, syncing...) into separate applications. However, I doubt that's going to happen. Though, it may. The App Store wasn't integrated into anything else. Maybe Apple will realize how much better things could be if they broke the bits up.
And while Apple may favor it's hardware, I could say the same of a dozen different software vendors. Microsoft is so bad about it that there have been multiple class-action lawsuits against them, including action taken by multiple governing bodies. And, yet, I bet you still use Windows. The majority of us do.
@ert: it would be nice if there was a single, accepted open-standard for everyone to use. It wouldn't just be a good thing for the music industry, it would be very handy for the web industry as well. HTML5 Video seems to finally have narrowed it down to two codecs (h.264 and WebM) but HTML Audio supports multiple codecs (MP3, AAC, OGG...) in a variety of configurations depending on what browser or device you wish to target. WebM for Android, h.264 for iOS, then randomly scattered for browsers...
The problem is there isn't such a standard, not with wide-spread support, and probably won't be for a very long time. The reason is simple: Large corporations have a lot to lose by going open-source. Sure, they don't have to pay a licensing fee but you get things for a licensing fee. For example, legal protection. If someone wanted to sue Apple for h.264 they would have to go through the MPEG-LA patent pool. One of the major reasons WebM hasn't caught on as it might otherwise have is because Google refuses to back up anyone's implementation with a legal guarantee. They're starting to make their own patent pool to solve that, but it's still a little ways off and what should people do in the mean time?