Windows & .NET Magazine’s Thurrott ‘fears HP and Apple have just set back convergence an untold numb

“Last summer, computing giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced a sweeping push into consumer electronics, releasing over 100 new consumer-oriented products in a single day. The move drew a bit of press attention, but nothing like the front page news assault that Apple Computer generated last week for the comparably weak announcement of expensive new but smaller iPod devices, portable audio players that won’t be available for months. Attempting to latch onto the marketing success of Apple, HP last week made the incredible decision to license Apple’s iPod player and iTunes software, and the move predictably catapulted HP into the spotlight for a day. But as the dust settles, HP’s customers have some hard questions about this decision, questions they’re right to ask. Because, as Microsoft is pointing out, Apple’s technology offerings are an island of incompatibility in an otherwise widely compatible PC world,” Paul Thurrott writes for WinInfo.

“Here’s the problem. Apple’s iPod plays back the popular MP3 audio format, as well as the standard’s based Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format. But Apple’s online music store sells songs in the more limited Protected AAC format, which is only compatible with Apple iTunes and the Apple iPod, giving users the type of corporate lock-in for which Microsoft is often criticized. Incidentally, RealNetworks’ recently announced RealPlayer 10 also works with the MP3 and AAC formats (and with Windows Media Audio [WMA], RealAudio, and other formats), but Real utilizes yet another completely incompatible version of AAC for its own music store, a format that will not work, naturally, with iTunes or the iPod, or with any other music software. To its credit, however, Real is offering higher quality AAC files than the Apple store, as most customer will likely want to convert these files to the more compatible MP3 format for the short term…In the week that HP announced its blockbuster deal with Apple, Microsoft announced shipping schedules Portable Media Centers and set-top boxes that will remote Media Center PC content–both supported, as usual, by a wide range of hardware companies. Again, choice is what we expect in the PC industry, and it seems like HP has given up this choice for a chance to grab cheap headlines and go with a single, incompatible, portable digital audio hardware vendor,” Thurrott writes.

“Well, on that note, they’ve succeeded. Contrary to the opinions of some Apple fanatics, I don’t personally care which media codecs or platforms win out in the market. But looking at the HP/Apple from a customer-centric point of view, it’s inescapable that HP has made, well, an interesting choice. I hope it’s not one that comes back to bite its millions of customers. That’s the number one concern here,” Thurrott writes. “From Apple’s point of view, of course, the HP deal is a major milestone. Apple’s iPods have sold phenomenally well, and with 30 million paid iTunes Music Store downloads, one could even argue that the Protected AAC format is on a roll by default. But the PC market is many times larger than that figure, and potential music sales to all PC users is of an order of magnitude larger than anything Apple could handle individually. With HP at its side, Apple really does have a chance to change the world, the one thing it had always promised but never really delivered. It will be interesting to see whether these two companies really can work together. If they can, this deal might be remembered as the day everything changed. If they can’t, HP and Apple have just set back the convergence of PCs and consumer electronics an untold number of years. And this, I’m sorry to say, is my fear.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The only thing “set back” is Thurrott’s credibility – see the related article below that explains why.

Hewlett-Packard: No WMA for iPod

27 Comments

  1. Umm… Apple never changed the world? I’d really like him to re-consider that thought. If it wasn’t for Apple, we might all still be using MS-DOS, or UNIX – or an OS without a GUI. — and that’s just to begin with the things Apple has done.

  2. How is the customer hurt and how is the Apple codec limiting when iTunes and iPod are available to all users (iTunes for free)????

    Not only that, but if it is by far the biggest seller (iPods and iTMS), then how are millions of people boxing themselves in? I’d say we are the majority and the other options are just not needed here (WMA files for example).

    This is big monopoly having a coniption that they are getting beat and can do nothing about it!

    Dude

  3. [This is big (twice-convicted) monopoly having a conniption that they are getting beat, and can do nothing about it!]

    The poorest ‘sports’ are the biggest cry-babies. Ever notice that?

    Their NEED to win is so pathetic.

    Bill and Bomber aren’t thankful, that no-tact twats like them are even allowed in the game. Their ego’s MUST control every aspect of ANYTHING they get involved with – or they’ll TRY to destroy it all.

    You watch their childish attempts at dismissing or destroying all of this if it doesn’t go their way.

  4. This is the perfect example of FUD in work.

    “HP/Apple from a customer-centric point of view, it’s inescapable that HP has made, well, an interesting choice. I hope it’s not one that comes back to bite its millions of customers. That’s the number one concern here,” Thurrott writes.”

    That is the biggest FUD Fart I have seen in a long time.

    Is there some reason a windows user can’t have…of heavens both Quicktime, Itunes, and Windows Media Player on the same Machine!!! oh the humanities!!!!The world is collapsing………..

  5. [Is there some reason a windows user can’t have both Quicktime, iTunes, and Windows Media Player on the same Machine!!!]

    You can on a Mac! Bill loves this arrangement.

    Why can’t he like Qt and WMP on PeeCees? Strange little man.

    [The world is collapsing..]

    Bill and Bomber’s are. Bomber probably had a vessel rupture in his ‘brain’.

  6. “Bill and Bomber’s are. Bomber probably had a vessel rupture in his ‘brain'”

    Well, that was guaranteed to happen before too long anyway. That’s not a healthy man.

  7. And Thurrott’s real fear isn’t that convergence will be set back, it’s that the world will converge on a direction completely opposite to the one he promised his readers. Come on, Paul, just admit you’re wrong. You have an iPod, so a Mac purchase is the natural progression.

  8. The problem is that you can’t play Fairplay AACs on anything other than an iPod. If Apple can license fairplay AAC to just a couple of other players, then they will be offering a real choice.

    It’s not about having iTunes on the PC, it’s about having iTMS songs playing on a Rio, updated from iTunes.

    Thing is, Apple is already winning with the iPod, so it’s likely that licensing Fairplay AAC to the likes of Rio or Creative won’t actually harm sales a great deal. People will still want an iPod but those who can’t afford one will at least be contributing to Apple’s bottom line by buying from iTMS.

    Thurrot IS a twat though, there’s no denying that 😀

  9. Thurrot says that Apple never really delivered on ‘changing the industry.’

    Where do you think Windows 95 came from…?

    What a prick.

    What’s that? If everyone uses AAC, it’s fine…

    …and all of a sudden ‘protected’ formats are BAD, but when MS overdoes it by pandering to the record labels it’s GOOD?

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