USA Today writer mistakenly thinks iPod could go the way of the Mac

“A feud between Apple and RealNetworks over music downloads is exposing Jobs’ tragic flaw. Amazingly, he seems to be making the same devastating mistakes with the iPod that he made with the Mac 20 years ago,” Kevin Maney writes for USA Today.

“Just as it happened with PCs, other digital music products will narrow Apple’s technology lead. Maybe those products will never be as good as Apple’s, but they’ll become good enough – and they’ll be based on broader standards that don’t lock in users, and they’ll probably be cheaper. If history is any guide, when that happens Apple’s share of digital music will leach away,” Maney writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Mac required huge investments by developers to create compatible software. So, when faced with budgetary contraints, they chose to go with the most popular platforms. The iPod simply plays music that can be encoded in any format the “developer” desires for very little cost. The music doesn’t need to be rewritten, recorded, and remastered. It’s like writing Photoshop once and then pressing a button to translate it to make it work perfectly on the Mac, Windows, Linux, etc. To draw an analogy between the Mac and the iPod highlights the writer’s ignorance of this fact.


  1. I sent this guy a letter. I may be wrong, but he seems to have left a few things out. Of course this is just my opinion…

    He isn’t telling the whole story. Apple has taken care to make sure the iPod works with Windows as well as Mac. And let’s not forget that Apple is working with HP and Motorola through the proper channels (as opposed to hacking and theft like Real) to widen the iPod and iTunes base. Also, they need to have some sort of DRM (Fair Play in this case) or they would never get the record companies to get on board. Plus, MS didn’t just take over the PC market because Apple wouldn’t license the OS, Windows was a straight rip-off of the Mac platform (just not as good). Can you blame Steve for wanting to protect iPod and iTunes after what happened to him with GUI systems on PCs (and don’t tell me about Xerox, I know they had GUI before Mac existed, but it was very different).

    Maney admits that the Mac systems are better (hardware and software) even the Intel exec he quotes admits that Mac is elegantly engineered. If this is the case, why shouldn’t Apple prosper?


  2. There’s a lot of garbage in the piece but iPod/iTMS share will leach away and that’s fine with me. While the rest of the world puts up with cheaper ‘good enough’ products I’ll be in the 10% – 15% (at best) who prefer much better products and don’t mind paying a small premium for them.

  3. This is a very complex issue here. In one side, there are the customers that buy at iTMS. They can play their music through iTunes and, if they want to carry on, use a portable player.
    Their primary choice is an iPod, because the solution is straight-forward: they just connect the iPod and update it.
    Other scenario is the customers that bought their music at RealNetworks and they choose iPod as their portable player. If this is the case, I think they already have a turnaround to convert Real’s DRM to mp3 (by writing an audio CD and then import it to iTunes, perhaps?). They may choose to use Harmony. They don’t have to convert their music to AIFF and then to MP3, AAC or Apple LooseLess. However, they will have a DRM on their music and maybe don’t want to make all these transformations because they will loose quality (maybe).
    The problem here is that somebody hacked Apple’s own DRM and this can cause the music labels dissapoinmentt because the FairPlay is not as secure as they thought.
    I understand that one wants to buy music wherever one wants and play it whatever player one owns, as we use to do at a brick-and-mortar store. However, if you buy music on casette tape and you want to hear it on a CD player, you have to transform it first, loosing some quality in the process.
    Did Real play Fair hacking Apple’s FairPlay? The time will tell us.

  4. I think this author wrote right past the issue.

    Consumers want the “whole magilla” to work right, not just a part of it and what they’re buying into is the “iPod Experience”, not just the iPod itself.

    While you can put your own CD’s on the Pod very easily,ITMS makes buying new stuff utterly simple along with archiving your library to CD’s.

    Think KISS, that old standby. The frosting on the cake is that the iPod is also “Way Cool” which is the intangeable the others don’t really understand.

  5. Don’t click on his article!

    But, Macminute has a few more blurbs from this guy. Basically, totally clueless.

    He is implying that Apple is engaging in monopolistic behavior!

    Hilarious! He has no idea what that means. Monopoly would mean that Apple used their iPod clout to force Bestbuy not to carry other players, or other labels not to sell via other stores. Umm, that’s NOT happening.

    What an idiot! According to this guy, if you have a great selling product, you should allow everyone on the planet to leech off it. Leech, leech, leech. What, he thinks Apple is a charity? Other companies are more open because no one is buying their products. (think Dell iPod exchange!) Apple can ensure the best experience possible because people are buying iPods like crazy. They gain nothing from opening up, except to lose everything.

    People, you should complain to the editor and point out all the fallacies of this guy’s article. Never go for the writers. Go for their editors and embarrass them into dropping the guy.

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