BusinessWeek writer: Microsoft will eventually dominate online music which ‘may be the best outcome

“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.


  1. These writers are idiots.

    The only valid point to be made is Apple has everything to lose and MS has everything to gain.

    It remains to be seen if Apple is playing it’s cards right. I personally think they are.

  2. If the music industry had not demanded DRM, wouldn’t Apple have used non protected MP3s or AACs? I don’t think Apple would lose much by opening up their online music business, but for now, there isn’t much reason to do so. The drama continues…

  3. Apple should license FairPlay and make it the world standard. What if, in the future, a different service offers a product or band or price that is not available via iTunes? It won’t work on your iPod. If a consumer wants to choose to buy a song or file through a competitor they can’t use it on their iPod. That seems like a communist verses free approach. We know what is best for you and that is all we will allow you to have.

    If you love something set it free – and it will come back (or something like that)

  4. I think MDN should specify that the 90% figure relates to HDD-based players. Not all types.

    Anyway, this writer sounds kinda like a relation to Thurrott than anything else.

    BTW: What ever happened to Enderle? He hasn’t ben writing nonsense like he used to. Or did I just miss all of it?

  5. @ mac dood.
    yeah you�re right, but you�re not fscked like german customers:
    Virtually all CDs you can buy here in germany are copyprotected. – A lot of those copyprotection schemes lead to either only being able to import music at 32kb or not to being able to play (and import) them at all on a Mac. (Being nice as the recording industry is in germany, they at least tell you on the back of the cover).
    That�s why I�m “stealing” the music I don�t find at the iTMS and which is not available on non-copyprotected CDs. :((

  6. let’s see if this really makes sense. Would it make anymore sense to say that Apple with their small OS share be charged with bringing order to the windows world because it would be best for the consumer.

    On second thought, that does make sense at least on the Apple taking over Windows.

  7. reality check… MS can broker iTunes killing deals with Bill Gates’ pocket change.

    reality check… I remember when the Apple II had 90% of the business PC market.

  8. “MS can broker iTunes killing deals with Bill Gates’ pocket change. “

    ahem..if you can back that up with anything not so closely resembling frail conjecture, you can have a job at Microsoft..

    “I remember when the Apple II had 90% of the business PC market.”

    Hmm.. back when Apple was interested in the business market?

  9. Sometimes when a writer can’t think of anything to write about, they make something up. Everyone can have an off-day. He was probably hung-over and some Microsoftie caught his ear between coffee and the toilet. Don’t be too tough on the poor guy. And please don’t shout! Ow.

  10. AppleWorks X

    “It’s like Microsoft Office for the rest of your iLife.

    Come on Steve, get an Office Killer released, or at least hint you are planning to ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

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