“The music downloads industry is about to enter the third stage of its revolution. The first phase was illegal downloads from the internet, the second was the corporate counter-revolution led by Apple with the runaway success of its 99 cents-a-track downloads through iTunes,” Victor Keegan writes for The Guardian. “The third stage is the turf wars between dozens of competing devices to establish market dominance five years hence. At the moment Apple is top banana with iTunes and the justly acclaimed iPod, and looks invincible.”
“But Apple has been here before – it dominated the computer market decades ago but later blew it – and the question is whether history will repeat itself in an eerily similar manner,” Keegan writes. “Roxio claims a competitive advantage in being compatible with Windows Media Player, installed as standard in hundreds of millions of Windows-based PCs, leverage that Apple doesn’t have, even though iPods and iTunes can be used with PCs.”
Keegan writes, “Apple is trying to establish dominance with the quality and style of its products. It is also trying to keep customers within its own walled garden – just as it did in the early days of popular computing, with near-fatal effects. But the attraction of all this could wane if Apple’s first-mover advantage evaporates and second movers offer cheaper products compatible with Windows Media Player and by extension, the majority of the world’s computers.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: WMA is a proprietary Microsoft format more akin to a “walled desert” compared to Keegan’s “walled garden” of AAC/Fairplay from Apple. Microsoft has the lovely history of abusing their customers after they’ve locked them into the Microsoft “solution.” Want proof? Just take a look at MS IE’s progress on Windows PCs since MS illegally sewed up that market; it’s pure junk compared to Apple’s Safari. Keegan also neglects to mention some facts, so, as is our wont, we won’t be bashful:
At the end of February, Napster announced they had sold 5 million songs. “Napster is losing money and top executives,” The Mercury News reported February 19th. Inside Digital Media analyst Phil Leigh estimates that Apple is now selling 1.2 million songs a week (or more than 20% of Napster’s all-time total), which he says would bring them to slightly more than 52 million total songs sold through the end of April. Adding Pepsi promo redemptions, Apple should be somewhere between 75 million – 100 million songs sold by April’s end. HP is due to begin selling all consumer PCs with iTunes, including the iTunes Music Store, preinstalled. This means QuickTime will be installed as well on all of those HPs, as it is required for iTunes to function. Market-dominating iPod players work with the market-dominating iTunes Music Store. Not Napster.
Mentioning Napster in the same breath as iTunes Music Store is akin to comparing flat RC Cola to a fresh bottle of Coca-Cola. Keegan needs to get a clue and wake up to reality.