“Imagine buying a CD at Best Buy only to discover that it won’t work on the CD player you bought at Circuit City. Absurd as it sounds, this sort of situation is the rule rather than the exception in the world of legally downloaded music. This maze of incompatible standards is a threat to online services such as Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store,” Stephen H. Wildstrom writes for BusinessWeek.
“The situation is both baffling and infuriating. My iPod can play all the MP3s I rip from CDs or pull from KaZaA (if I used it), but when it comes to legal downloads, it works only with the iTunes store. The Roku SoundBridge that connects my stereo to my computer’s stash of digital music can play everything in my iTunes library that I digitized myself — MP3s and the like — but not iTunes Music Store purchases. Similarly, other players handle only music bought from a specific service,” Wildstrom writes.
“Microsoft holds the high cards in this game. Much as I hate to see the colossus of Redmond end up dominating yet another market, I believe that is going to happen, and given the current state of affairs, it may be the best outcome for consumers,” Wildstrom writes. “In the end, what consumers care about is getting the music… they want and having it play without hassles on the device of their choice. Microsoft’s big-tent approach offers a way out of this morass for everyone, except perhaps Apple.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Reality check time: over 90 percent of the players in actual people’s hands today are iPods. The iTunes Music Store works on both Mac and Windows and holds over 70 percent of the online music download market. Songs that aren’t available via iTMS can be purchased on CDs and ripped to your PC or Mac iTunes and then transferred to your iPod. Why would people use the Microsoft WMA “solution” when over 90 percent of them can’t use it on their player of choice, Apple’s iPod?
“The situation is both baffling and infuriating.” Yeah, to Microsoft perhaps, not to consumers. While Wildstrom’s theories might look vaguely plausible on first glance, but they just don’t stand up to the reality that Apple is currently moving over one million iPods into consumers’ hands every 30 days. That’s over 1,000,000 fewer people shackled to Microsoft with every month that rolls by. Microsoft had better hurry up with this domination before they run out of potential customers.
Wildstrom wrote, “In the end, what consumers care about is getting the music… they want and having it play without hassles on the device of their choice.” They already have that, they’ve overwhelmingly chosen iPod and they can get the music they want with the most seamless choices available today – Apple’s iTunes Music Store or a CD ripped to iTunes. If Apple keeps executing as they have with iPod + iTunes, Microsoft has already lost; some people just can’t seem to be able to wrap their minds around that reality, yet. Look at it this way: which cards in this game is Microsoft really holding today? Tens of affiliated digital music players that almost nobody is buying and tens of online stores that sell files that don’t work with the player almost everybody is buying. Doesn’t look like a winning hand to us.