Microsoft attempts to isolate Apple with ‘PlaysForSure’ logo plan

“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


  1. if apple were to stoop to the level of microsoft, they could create a “PlaysOniPod” campaign. people see ipod these days and they buy it.

    however, i think apple is above this. they might be putting too much confidence in the consumer to explore products and realize their product is the best, but then again apple has never been about catering to the mass.

  2. “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.

    Well, the shoe is on the other foot. MS cannot monopolize the music market because, unlike PCs, it cannot strongarm the player manufacturers into using only its software and only its format (WMA). Serves them right.

  3. MicroSoft has always had the advantage of critical mass in the software & computer game – but this is a new situation and they simply don’t know what to do.

    How can it be that marginalized, little nothing Apple Corp. has a 70% marketshare in digital music? Billy and the boys must be apoplectic about Apple’s success and MicroSoft’s inability to bulldoze it’s way into the market.

    The fact that Jobs made iPod and iTunes work on Windows will go down as one of the most brilliant preemptive strikes in computer history.

    Billy’s boys are running about yelling “What to do now? What to do now?”

    ….And the only thing they could come up with was a negative marking slogan built upon fear of something “not MicroSoft”.

    That’s right boys – your only choice when marketing a substandard, invasive and unstable product is to have the customer focus on something other than actual product merits.

    Billy – you may have 99% of the operating system market for bank machines and grocery store barcode readers – but your desktop end-user market is imploding due to viruses and system stability issues.

    MicroSoft – you are going down!

  4. According to NPD digital format market shares (files on hard drives): MP3 – 72%, WMA – 19.6%, AAC – 4.3%

    That’s a good start for MS, it didn’t take them too long to move from 20% to 80% in the browser market. I’m not saying they will win in digital formats, they can lose money for years and eventually make a profit (like MSN) or lose money for years hoping to make a profit one day (like XBox) or give up (Longhorn ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> ).

    Downloads are a tiny proportion of files on hard drives, the vast majority are ripped from CD. The owners of the files may consider compatability when choosing an ‘MP3’ player, if so MS has some leverage.

    Apple has a better hand than MS at the moment and there’s every indication they’ll continue playing well but it’s way too early in the game to predict the result.

  5. So, The plan from Microsoft is NOT to compete in the download music market and make a profit. But to throw large amounts of money at the market in order to destroy all competition it believes treatens it’s operating system monopoly.

    And there are those who wonder why Microsoft is continually bashed in these parts. Silly humans.

  6. Just like Republicans, MS is more interested in smearing their opponent than in showing the positive attributes of its product (candidate). Why? Because their products (candidates) aren’t better, by a long shot.

  7. But the reason that 19.6% of music is WMA is not because people elected to use Windows Mediocre Accident as a format, but merely because they didn’t know how to or need to change the default in Windows Mediocre Player.

  8. Apple is the one in the position of power here, not M$. People seem to forget that when the Xbox came along, there were also predictions of market share domination in the gaming arena which have never materialized. Sony got the one year jumpstart with the PS2 and even today they still lead M$ by a substantial margin. Just because M$ dominates in the OS field, doesn’t mean they will in every area they venture into by a long shot.

    Oh…and G-spank is a clueless dipsh*t…

  9. MP3 – 72%, WMA – 19.6%, AAC – 4.3%

    What does that show? Nothing. It shows that people don’t understand digital music files.
    I talk often with new iPod owners and they all use MP3 for it because they have no concept of what AAC is. The WMA people just think it has to be that way because of their crappy player. I don’t think this shows Microsoft has some sort of advantage. People are just uneducated. Most likely those MP3 people are using some form of an Apple product, whether iTunes or an iPod.

  10. Just like Republicans, MS is more interested in smearing their opponent than in showing the positive attributes of its product (candidate). Why? Because their products (candidates) aren’t better, by a long shot.

    Hmmm, yet I can’t name ONE thing Kerry will actually do or how he will accomplish it….. idiot.

  11. What goes around comes around. MS can only say it “plays for sure” on about 10% of the portable hard drive music players.

    What good is that?

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