“The music industry is pushing bitter technology rivals — most notably Microsoft and Apple — to shake hands in the interest of promoting digital downloads, Billboard has learned. Hardware makers and digital format developers, including many traditional adversaries, are engaged in private talks aimed at meeting the music industry’s goal of compatibility among competing digital music devices by 2005,” Brian Garrity reports for Billboard.
“‘There’s a substantial discussion going on among these companies about interoperability,’ says Paul Vidich, executive VP of strategic planning and business development for Warner Music Group. Consumers are embracing commercial digital music in increasing numbers, and the trend is likely to be aided by a Pepsi-Apple promotion launching Feb. 1 during Super Bowl XXXVIII. But incompatibility among certain digital music services and portable players remains an obstacle,” Garrity reports.
“‘Consumers are going to demand that there be interoperability in devices and software players,” Vidich says. Executives with knowledge of the talks say much of the focus is on transcoding — the process of converting a file from one format to another,” Garrity reports. “It is impossible right now for consumers to directly convert a file protected by one type of digital rights management (DRM) into another type of secure file.”
Garrity reports, “While this is not specifically an Apple and Microsoft matter, many of the practical issues center on compatibility between the two tech giants. Music from Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store — the leading seller of digital tracks — cannot be transferred directly to any portable device other than the iPod. Those who compete with iPod by and large support Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio (WMA) format. At the same time, tracks from every other legitimate service — a field that includes Napster, MusicMatch, RealNetworks, Wal-Mart and Sony — are incompatible with the iPod. To load iTunes tracks on a device other than iPod or to load songs from a rival onto Apple’s device, consumers must burn the tracks to a CD and then rip the tracks from the CD back to the computer in the MP3 format.”
“Executives at some device makers — such as Richard Bullwinkle, a senior product manager at Rio Audio — have complained that Apple has been resistant to overtures about making secure iTunes files compatible with other devices,” Garrity reports. “With Apple controlling much of the nascent legitimate digital music market, the onus for concessions in the compatibility debate largely falls on the company — a prospect one rival executive likens to ‘unilateral disarmament.’ “‘Increased operability is great for consumers. But if you’re in Apple’s situation, it’s not in your interest to do this,’ says a source.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple has the number one legit online music download service with their iTunes Music Store. Apple also has the number one player, the iPod. Shouldn’t the rest of the industry embrace the Apple standard, just like every other standard that has come to the fore in other areas; or is Apple a special case to these people? Don’t change a thing Apple – you’re winning the war.