For all the fuss over gaming consoles becoming convergence boxes, it looks like the Macintosh might be winning. iTunes has started delivering multimedia content (movie trailers, but also audiobooks and some other fringe, non-textual media), and it looks like it'll soon be a great gateway app that could be for commercialism what the browser was for academia -- and early home net users.

The interesting part is how many hooks there are now for commercialism to very subtly influence our lives. Take the "iMix" as an example. You can now upload your mixes from iTunes to the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) so that others can see what you listen to and buy the same songs. Songs in your lists that aren't on the iTMS aren't listed, of course, even if they're in the free & clear copyright wise.

Anyhow, one neat feature is that these mixes have mosaic-ed (there's some browser irony there) album covers representing your mix, like the one pictured with this blog entry.

If I had to guess, I'd say that Apple isn't cleverly deciding which artists to show at the moment, but if they aren't now they will soon. The mix represented by the pictured mosaic certainly has artists in addition to the ones shown in the composite album cover, yet Sarah McLachlan, who only has three songs out of the 55 listed, has two albums on the mosaic. You might also remember McLachlan was one of the first big names to endorse iTunes, and had her picture plastered on the front window of the iTMS for weeks at launch, iirc. The Black Crowes, who have twice the songs of McLachlan, aren't even pictured. (That said, you can't argue with having Flatt & Scruggs or Willie Nelson on the cover, no matter how they're represented in the list.)

Anyhow, as these mixes are linked to and from offerings by artists contained when people shop with iTunes, this sort of subtle advertising will be worth something. iTunes also now allows you to print CD inserts in the same fashion, so when you make a CD or give it away (if such a thing were legal, of course), who gets their album on the cover could be receiving a pretty effective advertisement.

Paying for preferred placement on mosaiced iMix album covers is a simple method iTunes and Apple could allow commercialism to influence our lives more effectively than ever before. At the same time, we're being guided towards a true consumer convergence machine because we crave the advance; the new browser is coming, like it or not. What's crucial is that we also start thinking critically about how this invention will affect our lives -- and ensure that when we enter that we're going in, eyes opened.