The other day I downloaded the latest version of iTunes and discovered the much-heralded Genius feature is a not-so subtle way to sell content on iTunes. When I heard about the Genius feature, I mistakenly thought it was like Peter Gabriel's Filter tool, a very cool utility for iTunes, which enabled you to select some songs in your library, then build a playlist of other songs in your library automatically based on your selections, and while it does do that it, it's a bit more insidious. (The Filter tool, by the way appears to no longer be available as a download.)
When you turn on the Genius feature, it displays a dialog box explaining what it is. You should note the fine print here because it states that 'Genius will send information about your iTunes library to Apple.' If you click Continue as I did because I didn't read it carefully, it begins to transmit a list of the contents your library to Apple. While I like Apple products, I would prefer it didn't have information on my musical tastes in its databases.
In fact, that was a deal killer right there for me. I stopped the process immediately. But it still gave me insight into what Genius actually is, and while it's similar to Gabriel's tool, instead using just the contents of your library to build a playlist, it's a scheme to sell you songs and videos on the iTunes store based on your individual tastes.
After you tell Apple what you like to listen to and watch, it displays a list of content you might like to buy. How convenient for them. How creepy for you. In my view, not a worthwhile tradeoff, not even close.
Apple could have given you choice to allow you to use the Genius feature in the same way as the Filter tool, just basing the list on the contents of your library, but it doesn't do that. You transmit your information or you don't get to use the service.
The Genius feature is nothing more than a not-so veiled marketing scheme. I suppose, I shouldn't be surprised that Apple wants to sell us more content from the iTunes store, but maybe they could be a little more intelligent about it without sticking their corporate fingers into my information. For a company that's built it's reputation on understanding its consumers, the Genius feature as implemented isn't a smart move at all.