“The top consumer complaint at online music service Napster: Songs purchased at Napster won’t play on Apple’s iPod,” Jefferson Graham reports for USA Today. “It’s not Napster’s fault. Apple’s hugely successful iPod business is built on a closed system. You shop at iTunes Music Store for digital songs and use iTunes software to transfer them effortlessly to the iPod.”

“The system works great for iPod owners. For others, there’s a chaos of competing formats,” Graham reports. “Songs sold at Napster, Rhapsody, Yahoo Music and other online stores are geared to Microsoft-endorsed digital devices, not the iPod. These digital music players from SanDisk, Creative Labs and others can’t easily play songs from iTunes.”

“The chaos promises to intensify next month when Microsoft begins selling the $249 Zune, its attempt to finally dent Apple’s dominance in digital music. Like Apple, Microsoft is introducing a closed system. Songs sold at Microsoft’s new Zune Marketplace store will only play easily on the Zune — not the iPod, not even Microsoft-endorsed devices sold by Creative, SanDisk, iRiver and others,” Graham reports.

“Apple represents 88% of all online music sales — market share that’s virtually unprecedented in any other business — and 70% of the digital music device market,” Graham reports.

Graham reports, “‘This goes against the grain of everything Microsoft has been telling consumers for two years,’ says Ted Cohen, the managing partner of consultant TAG Strategic. ‘I’m stunned.’

Graham reports, “‘Microsoft is thumbing its nose to its partners and millions of consumers,’ says Richard Doherty, an independent analyst with the Envisioneering Group. ‘I can’t think of anybody doing anything like this in all the years I’ve covered consumer electronics.’ Scott Erickson, a Microsoft Zune product manager, says PlaysForSure is for people who want to use other devices. The Zune system is meant to be a closed-end system, as is the iPod. Microsoft is happy offering both, he says. He says Apple has shown that being a one-stop shop for hardware and software is a successful formula.”

Full article here.
Yet another reason to get an iPod of your choice and use iTunes: it just works – and incudes both Mac and Windows users, too.

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