No need to ‘open iPod’ if Apple keeps pricing in line

“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.

18 Comments

  1. I still think they need to expand the iPod range to include an in-car player and maybe something that is permanently part of a stereo.

    AFAIK, the t players that hook into iTunes can’t play protected AAC. That wouldn’t be a problem for me, but it would for some I guess.

    So while maybe Apple should sit on Fairplay for the iPod, maybe they should license it for other products that complement the mac and thi iPod rather than compete with it.

  2. A better analogy of Apple’s “dilemna” (if there even is one) would be Sony’s BetaMax and VHS. Sony kept Beta to itself and never licensed it. It was far superior to VHS quality, and was really the best product out there for home viewing and recording. VHS did finally win out because a full of cheap systems came in when ppl didn’t care about quality, but only about pricing (also Sony being a Japanese company in the 80’s kinda hurt its position).

    however, though it lost out on Beta, Sony kept innovating and created the CD, walkman, participated in the creation of the DVD, etc. Sony’s now a jugernaut and Apple’s not in bad shape even if fairplay goes the way of Beta.

  3. I would agree. A car stereo that just accepted the iPod as a dock and gave me controls and a display more suited to a car environment would be a no-brainer as far as a purchase goes.

  4. The problem with the Sony Beta and early Mac OS comparisons is those where physical media (tapes & software) that required extra effort to make the product available in multiple formats as well as additional shelf space in physical retail stores.

    With digital music the rules are completely different – the same song is easily available from numerous stores and various formats/DRM. An artist isn’t have to choose if they are going to sell their new single in AAC or WMA – they can make it available to everyone and let market forces determine which sells more.

    I love having the iPod/iTrip in the car. I thought I saw online some Asian car that was iPod ready? It wasn’t something available in the US – I think just Japan? My stereo (Audi) picks up the radio station info, artist and song name if the station broadcasts it. I’d love to have an iPod dock in my car and have this info shown on the radio. Album artwork on a DVD/navigation screen would be icing on the cake.

  5. Hey focker… re: “(Beta) was far superior to VHS quality, and was really the best product out there for home viewing…”

    Yes, Beta had better quality – more lines per inch resolution, and faster tape speed which provided fewer dropouts and higher quality sound – but one of the BIG reasons it failed was its low capacity. It took two tapes to hold a normal feature movie – unlike VHS which could hold a normal movie on one tape. That combined with the cost of the Sony-only equipment was a killer.

    But… even if Sony had of licensed the technology, VHS would have triumphed at the end because the cost of media was half that of Beta, even on a level playing field.

    Bottom line for Apple – Sony vs VHS means nothing to Apple, because Apple’s technology is (for now) so superior, AND it is cross platform. MicroSoft’s codec means nothing when your iPod will play MP3’s and you can purchase any music you want with Fairplay technology.

    Now, if Apple would only include an integral microphone and voice recording capability, everyone in the office would be happy, because the boss has promised to purchase us all new digital voice recorders so we can dump these tapes – but we are waiting for Apple. Hey Mr. Jobs… are you listening yet?

  6. I always thought that iPod docks should be cheap and could be installed wherever you need music. However, Apple does change iPod design occasionally and that may make designing iPod docks for cars a bit harder. What if the next generation iPod is slimmer? Or the position of the buttons is obscured by the dock? Etc.

    Apple has to be willing to have future iPod designs constrained by whatever docks they produce now.

  7. there goes Glick7 again…. click the above link and buy that one if you can’t wait….

    on a side not, please go buy music on iTunes… we need to make sure we get close to the 100mil goal. I bought 20 this week!!

    Glick, I was kidding, don’t you dare buy that fugly player…

  8. I, for one, would like to state that I am using Mozilla’s flash blocker, and I am GRATEFUL. The flash ad above was replaced with a button so I can look at it if I choose, and I choose not to. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  9. “Most of my iPod music usage would be in a car.”

    “I definitely want a car stereo that i can attach my iPod to, using a tape adapter is not satisfactory.”

    “A car stereo that just accepted the iPod as a dock and gave me controls and a display more suited to a car environment would be a no-brainer as far as a purchase goes.”

    …then check out IceLink. It works very well.

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