The iPod is not the Mac, so stop trying to compare them

When it comes to Apple’s iPod and iTunes symbiotic relationship, “It all sounds depressingly familiar to those who remember the mid-1980s, when Apple was the most powerful voice in the then new personal computer market. It refused to license its software to other manufacturers, which turned instead to Microsoft,” Nick Clayton writes for The Scotsman.

“No matter what Apple does, it cannot hold on to its current massive share of the world’s portable music player and download business,” Clayton writes. “What it can do is alienate its devoted users by preventing them having a choice. They would not buy a CD or DVD player that would only work with discs from one shop. And there is no reason why they should behave any differently on line, no matter how much Apple would like them to.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As with the “Mac OS X security through obscurity myth” we endured awhile back, it looks like we’ll have to repeat the facts over and over until they sink in: the Macintosh platform required and still requires huge investments by developers to create compatible software. So, when faced with budgetary contraints, they chose and still sometimes choose to go with the most popular platforms. The iPod simply plays music that can be encoded, for very little cost, in any format the “developers” (musicians and labels) desire: AAC, MP3, WMA, etc. 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 for use on Mac, Windows, Linux, etc. To draw an analogy between Mac OS licensing and the iPod/iTunes symbiotic relationship simply highlights the writer’s ignorance of the vast differences between the two business situations.


  1. Sounds to me that all these parrots sing the “choice” chorus are just bemoaning that fact that so many people have already chosen and that they were not the choice that the buying public made. Can anyone say sour grapes? I knew you could.

  2. MDN, you miss the point. The Mac became the less popular system because they stayed a closed system–and as a result of that, developers dropped them. Developers didn’t drop them when they were the dominant system.

  3. With the developers it was about making money in the end.

    A waiter is not going to stay at a ritzy restaurant just because it’s sleek and cool….his tips are okay. When he can go to a more hi-trafficked ritzy restaurant that is not so cool and sleek and get better tips for the night.

  4. What I don’t understand is why people seem to think that the Mac was or is a closed system? Was there at anytime in it’s history that Apple didn’t allow software companies the ability to write software for the Mac? The only reason developers stopped writing for the Mac was when they believed that the market was too small for their needs. Not because it was closed.

  5. I had a choice back when I decided to Buy my iPod. I could have purchased any one of several dozen music players. I had LOTS of choice. But I also had common sense, and I researched the alternatives to an iPod, and what I found was, the iPod gave me more choice, ease of use, iTunes integration (which simplified things) and a great Music store with an ever expanding music catalog. The choice was clear. None of the other music players even came close. So if these reporters continually bitch and moan about “choice”, I can’t help but think they’re experiencing Buyer’s Remorse for having gotten that Creative Rio or a Dell DJ…

  6. ” It refused to license its software to other manufacturers, which turned instead to Microsoft “

    But the big reason why MS found its way into most “personal computers” was IBM. At the time most IT departments had IBM mainframes. When the desktop computer made the scene into businesses, they naturally went with what they were already comfortable with. I remember the head of our “Systems” dept (all IBM) saying that a computer with a silly thing called a mouse was a toy that would never sit on any desk in our company. When the average joe decided to buy a computer for his home he also went with what he was comfortable with — regardless if there was better technology available or not.

    Now… if Apple HAD licensed the MacOS to IBM (and IBM used a Moto chip instead of Intel), we would be living in a different world.

  7. The danger for Apple is that should the iTMS lose its dominance and become a small time player could Apple get locked out of the market? Right now Apple has the ball and is running with it. MS knows what Apple is up to ( trying to switch PC users over to the Mac with the iTunes/iPod combo ). No doubt MS and friends (Apple’s music competitors/ enemies?) are organizing/plotting against Apple and we all know how much marketing $$$ MS can spend when it wants to win a market. Sounds like a Shakespearean tragedy in the making. I hope Apple is watching the numbers very carefully and I’m sure they are and make as many allies as possible, quickly. Go Apple!

  8. 1. The reason apple did not capture the buisness market has nothing to do with “closed” or “open” archecture. It has a lot to do with culture. Bill Gates mother was a long time IBM executive and his father a lawer. He copied IBM’s monopistic practices after he snookered them with only licencing the OS. I well remember looking for a job and 95% of them were some version of COBOL on IBM iron. ONLY IBM could have made the desktop computer acceptable to business. They owned computing at that time.

    2. I do not know how the portable music business will pan out, but Apple seems to be doing well at this time. They seem to be very agressivly enhancing the iPod, 4 generations and broadening the scope (iPod mini).

    One big thing that most of these “analysists” seem to overlook is that Apple has to carefully negotiate the terms of the sale with the content providors. They are not free to do anything they might want. I think it is a miricle that Jobs got those greedy fools to agree to any user friendly scheme. I can imaging the negotiations, in his office, with the appopiate Oscars and other awards on a shelf behind him. The content industry is as clubby as any other industry.


    Apple are doing exactly what they should be – also remember that if this was Microsoft they would be 100 times worse!!


    Thank fuck I use am MAC!!

  10. If I rememeber correctly back in the heydays Apple was not so nice to developers about when Windows 3.0 came out I think. In fact I remember Apple being so snobby and elitist and only wanted the better developers but didn’t really offer not much help to them. They had no developing tools to give out like they do now. That I think spelled their own fate….I kept hearing PC people saying to me…BUT, but, but there is SO MUCH software on PC….when I was using Photoshop 2.0 and that was the main reason I was using a Mac due to my profession. Ah well…I think Apple is doing a fine job right now and market share is really not that big of a deal. And I still don’t think licensing was going to help them at all….and maintain an image they now have. No way. That is something none of us can predict, an outcome on the “what if” scenario.

    And to make matters worse…Microsoft made sure that in order for you to sell IE in those early days…you CANNOT SELL any other competing browser (heard of Netscape Gold?). That was actually in the contract among other contract restrictions with other software. It was VERY VERY exclusive. That was the beginning of the monopoly (late 80’s, early 90’s).

    Amazing, no one had a problem with that. Or even thought it was monopolistic back them. I was told it was called “free enterprise.” Oooooooooooookay!

  11. […Microsoft made sure that in order for you to sell IE in those early days…you CANNOT offer any other competing browser… That was actually in the OEM contracts, among other contract restrictions with other software. It was VERY VERY exclusive. That was the beginning of the monopoly (late 80’s, early 90’s). �� Amazing, no one had a problem with that. Or even thought it was monopolistic back them. I was told it was called “free enterprise.”]


    It’s ‘free enterprise’ when it favors M$, it’s ‘monopolistic’ when it favors Apple.

    It’s ‘cheerleading’ when done by the Win crowd, it’s ‘zealotry’ when done from the Mac jihad.

    It’s ‘innovation’ when M$ copies, it’s ‘stealing’ when Apple does something that LOOKS similar. (Konfab)

    It’s the ‘Real Business Computer’ – a Windows/Intel PC – that has more games than the ‘toy’ Macintosh.

    Closed is open, illegal monopoly is vigorous competitor, ignorance is strength, War is Peace…

    … … …

    Maybe Apple should go out of business. Then open the following Monday as NeXT!

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