Apple is at a crossroads. The company has the hottest hard drive-based music player with its iPod line. The company has defined the best online music downloading experience with iTunes. Now Apple stands poised to unleash iTunes for Windows, but various potential pitfalls could endanger the Cupertino company’s quest to dominate the online music market.
“This is not the first time Apple has stood at the forefront of a nascent market. The company’s original Macintosh operating system was the first mainstream OS to use a graphical user interface (GUI), back when Microsoft was still peddling MS-DOS in the 1980s… Nevertheless, despite consistent critical and consumer raves about its products, Apple’s market share has hovered around 3 percent of the PC market for several years. Apple’s foray into the digital music space suggests it is not betting its future simply on its computers and attendant software. But will the company drop the ball again, or will it move quickly to leverage its installed base of Windows iPod users into a Windows foothold for iTunes? If it does, it conceivably could dominate the online music market,” Robyn Weisman writes for E-Commerce Times.
The battle is shaping up between Apple’s AAC/Fairplay Digital Rights Managment (DRM) soluton and Microsoft’s WMA format. As long as iPod remains very popular, AAC won’t hurt Apple in the Windows-dominated market. But, should iPod slip, Apple’s leverage will evaporate quickly and we’ll likely see the WMA format, which is compatible with BuyMusic.com, MusicMatch, etc., incorporated into the iPod. iPod is the key here; if you own an iPod, the only real choice for legal online music is Apple’s iTunes Music Store. The more iPods Apple sells, the better iTMS for Windows chances of success. This is a bold gamble on Apple’s part. It could approach the importance of the early 1990’s OS battle between Mac and Windows. This new online music battle doesn’t have to turn out the same way, but Apple has to get iTunes for Windows out to the world and it had better work very, very well. Reducing iPod prices in order to win the war wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Read the full article, “Apple’s New Bid for Insane Greatness” over at E-Commerce Times.com here.