“To longtime tech watchers, Apple Computer’s dilemma over whether to “open up” its wildly successful iPod/iTunes strategy has an amusingly familiar ring. Having devised the must-have gadget of the early 21st century, Apple now faces intense pressure to allow the iPod to work with multiple music services beyond iTunes,” Paul Andrews writes for The Seattle Times.
“RealNetworks Chief Executive Rob Glaser seems to be leading the charge with a recent offer to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Let iPod users play music from RealNetworks, Glaser proposed, and Real in turn will tailor its music service to promote the iPod as its player of choice,” Andrews writes.
“Nearly two decades ago, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and executive Jeff Raikes made a similar suggestion to Apple regarding its then-new Macintosh. Why don’t you license Mac technology to other vendors and build in compatibility with Microsoft’s DOS operating system, Microsoft suggested. In return, Microsoft would help promote the Macintosh,” Andrews writes. “Suspicious that Microsoft had ulterior motives, including using Macintosh technology for the still-unreleased Windows, Apple rejected the idea. Technology historians have long noted the blown opportunity in explaining why Apple, with a huge chronological lead in the graphical-user interface, nevertheless became marginalized by Windows in the PC revolution.”
“Did Apple learn its lesson? While there are seductive similarities in the two scenarios, it seems unlikely that Jobs is in any hurry to ‘open up’ the iPod,” Andrews writes.
Andrews concludes, “If Apple wants to maintain the iPod’s hegemony, all it may really have to do is keep lowering the price. Once the ‘mini’ burns through early adopters, its price is sure to fall. And the ‘papa’ iPod should cost less in the future, even as its capacity expands. Either that, or Apple faces getting lowballed into oblivion once again.”
Full article here.