“When purchasing a personal computer, buyers used to grapple with the decision: a Macintosh from Apple Computer or a Microsoft-based PC? Microsoft effectively won that operating system debate years ago and claims more than 90% of the PC operating system market,” Jefferson Graham writes for USA Today. “But in the push to legally sell digital music, Apple and Microsoft, and their incompatible file formats, are at it again. Consumers are in the position of having to choose as hardware makers line up behind either Microsoft or Apple’s software format.”
“Hewlett-Packard’s recent surprise decision to snub longtime PC partner Microsoft and offer Apple music software on its PCs shows how unpredictable this battle may be. ‘Microsoft lost the first round of the digital music war,’ says Phil Leigh, an analyst with research firm Inside Digital Media. Apple’s iTunes software ‘was good enough to persuade (H-P) … to switch. That’s huge,'” Graham writes.
“For now, Dell, which battles H-P for PC market share dominance, promotes music in Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio (WMA) format on its computers – as do most Windows-based PCs,” Graham writes. Likewise, most portable music devices sold today – with the exception of Apple’s best-selling and acclaimed iPod – use Microsoft’s format. That means consumers who use portable music players and buy songs from Apple must use the iPod; consumers who purchase from non-Apple online music stores must use portable devices based on Microsoft’s format,” Graham writes.
“Scott Kauffman, CEO of MusicNow, thinks owners of H-P PCs are going to wonder why their iTunes songs can’t go onto all of their Best Buy devices. ‘This is a tactical mistake for H-P that will mushroom into a strategic blunder,’ he says. ‘It’s the single biggest complaint we get in customer service,’ says Dennis Mudd, CEO of Musicmatch, another online music store and software maker: ‘Why can’t I move this song to an iPod?’ Mudd also says that H-P is in danger of promoting future sales of Apple Macs – by promoting Apple software on its own PCs. That could hurt its own PC sales,’ Graham writes.
Full article here.