“Microsoft has put… the ‘PlaysForSure’ logo onto any device that offers its proprietary software. The idea is to isolate Apple with ownership of the market and imply that Apple is the odd one out. And we’re sure, that to some extent, among some types of customers, it will work,” Faultline writes for The Register. “Microsoft’s plan seems to be targeted directly at Apple, for the sake of hurting Apple, rather than for the sake of making money. On the one hand it has acted as a design focal point to stimulate all of these companies to offer hardware against Apple. And on the other it has also provided a route into 30 online music stores around the world through integration with Windows Media Player 10, as well as launching its own MSN Music Store. The plan seems to be that some companies can build online music stores, others can build devices, and Microsoft will make it all come together because it all uses standard software in the middle. Security is assured through the bundled DRM.”
“Presumably any player can be used with any online music service as long as it uses Microsoft formats,” Faultline writes. “But we’d like to know who, exactly, is responsible for the customer experience? Is it the designer of the portable player hardware, the designer of the online music service or the constraints of Windows Media 10?”
“Steve Jobs is fond of saying things like, ‘It’s the Music stupid,’ and he has a point: it begins with the quality of song and its playback, and takes in the breadth of choice, ease of use and enjoyment, and permanent ownership of a collection of music,” Faultline writes. “Many of these services that Microsoft is supporting want you to pay for a music collection every month for the rest of your life. Stop paying and your subscription service is cut off and you retain no music. These are known to be weak models and perhaps they will fail entirely on the lack of appeal of this business model.”
“But the idea that Microsoft beat Apple in the PC market, and so quite naturally it can pull the same trick in the music market, is perhaps a little oversimplified. Apple has its customers already, Microsoft has yet to find its customers. Apple makes over $1bn of revenue from iPod sales, Microsoft cannot expect that money, because it’s only supplying a small part of the software for the MP3 players,” Faultline writes. “Microsoft gives its media player away free (illegally in the view of the European Commission), so where does it make its money? From music sales? Well so far that only amounts to $150m, even for Apple, and most of that goes to record companies. Microsoft may have covered the Apple play, just to stop it stealing a head start in other markets, but we can tell what the US stock market thinks by the way that Apple’s stock climbed over $2bn after its figures came out, while Microsoft’s has stayed flat as a pancake all week. Investors, at least, don’t think that Microsoft can undo everything Apple has worked for over the past three years, in one single announcement.”
Full article, an excellent read, with much more here.
Related MacDailyNews article:
Microsoft unveils ‘PlaysForSure’ logo which signifies incompatiblity with Apple iPod and iTunes Music Store – October 16, 2004