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Musicmatch tries to stay plugged into iPod

The jukebox software company warns customers that switching to Apple Computer's iTunes for Windows will sever the connection between Musicmatch software and the iPod player.

Musicmatch isn't quite ready to give up its ties to the iPod.

On Monday, the San Diego-based music software company sent an e-mail to its customers letting them know that, despite the arrival of Apple Computer's iTunes for Windows, customers can still use its jukebox program to connect to Apple's iPod. However, the message warns them that if they install iTunes, Musicmatch's connection to the iPod will be severed.

"As a valued Musicmatch customer and iPod user, we want to alert you to a serious software conflict caused by iTunes for Windows," the company said in the e-mail. "Apple iTunes for Windows prevents Musicmatch Jukebox from working with the iPod by deleting critical files used by Musicmatch."

The software maker goes on to offer detailed instructions on how customers can uninstall iTunes and resume using Musicmatch.

The e-mail is in response to Apple's move to supplant Musicmatch with its own iTunes software, which it released last month. Upon installing iTunes, customers are no longer able to synchronize their iPods with Musicmatch.

Apple and Musicmatch were partners when the Mac maker first took the iPod to Windows, using Musicmatch's jukebox software to synchronize with the music player device. Not long thereafter, Apple revealed plans to adapt iTunes for Microsoft's Windows operating system.

"Once they said we are going to be developing iTunes for Windows, we knew that we would be competing with them," Musicmatch spokeswoman Jennifer Roberts said. However, Roberts said the company did not expect that Apple would unilaterally disconnect its software from the iPod.

"We expected the customer could make the choice, not Apple," Roberts said.

An Apple representative was not immediately available for comment.

Apple and Musicmatch are not only competing in the jukebox software market but are also squaring off with rival music download services.

Shortly after Apple introduced iTunes for Windows last month, Musicmatch started hearing from some customers that wanted to continue using its software, according to Roberts. It decided the e-mail was the best response, she said, noting that the company has several hundred thousand customers that have used Musicmatch with the iPod.

Not all Musicmatch customers appreciated the e-mail, however.

"Musicmatch has sent e-mails to registered iPod users claiming an update, but really attempting to get the user to disable or remove iTunes," said Brandon Harder, an iPod owner in Seattle who was among those who received Musicmatch's e-mail on Monday. "They're attempting to cling onto their market share."

Harder said he briefly used Musicmatch to connect with his Windows iPod but then started using another program before ultimately switching to iTunes once the Windows version came out last month.

"I tried using Musicmatch briefly with my iPod, only to discover it was extremely slow, had a very poor user interface, and caused my PC to hang or crash without fail," Harder wrote.