“The market for legitimate music downloads is booming, but the stumbling block of incompatibility will not go away. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to put a Napster track on an iPod,” Brian Garrity writes for Billboard.
MacDailyNews Take: Why settle for asking just one? Ask all three of them.
Garrity writes, “Experts say the DRM dilemma might not be resolved for another two years. ‘It’s not going to go away quickly,’ Napster chief technology officer William Pence said at a recent DRM conference in New York.”
MacDailyNews Take: If Napster executives are such DRM experts, why do they use Microsoft’s WMA DRM instead of developing their own? Why two years? Is that how long Napster figures they’ll last?
Garrity writes, “Microsoft’s Windows Media DRM is supported on more than 60 devices and used for digital files sold by dozens of retailers, including Napster, AOL, Yahoo, RealNetworks, Virgin, FYE and Wal-Mart. Apple’s DRM is called Fair Play [sic] and works only in Apple-controlled products and services like the iPod and the iTunes Music Store.”
MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s iTunes Music Store is the only store mentioned above that supports both Mac and Windows. All of the rest that Garrity mentions support only Windows. Apple has sold more songs online than the rest of the above-mentioned outfits combined. Apple’s AAC with FairPlay DRM is the de facto standard for legal online music files. Would it matter if Windows Media were supported by over 60,000 devices if nobody were buying and using them?
MacDailyNews Major Annnouncement: We have developed a car that runs on maple syrup! Exxon is stifling the growth of our product – they need to install maple syrup pumps in their stores! In addition, we’ve developed a maple syrup pump for maple syrup cars! Toyota are stifling the growth of our maple syrup pumps – they need to make cars that run on maple syrup! We’re waiting for The New Zealand Herald and Billboard to pick up our story and help us whine to a larger audience.
Garrity writes, “As more consumers go digital, the compatibility issues between Apple and Microsoft become more pronounced. Apple, the early market leader, has been particularly resistant to shaking hands in the interest of compatibility.”
MacDailyNews Take: The vast majority of consumers are choosing iPods and using Apple’s iTunes Music Store on their Macs or Windows PCs. A song is a song and Apple offers the largest legal music library at consistent prices. Why should Apple give away their business to other music outfits or sell songs for players from which they derive no profit? Solely for the “interest of compatibility?” That’s some business plan. Apple would have a tough time getting shareholder approval for that one.
Garrity writes, “More than 184 million digital tracks were sold in the United States this year through the end of July, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That is almost double the amount sold during the same period in 2004. Still, some digital-music executives say compatibility problems are slowing the growth of legitimate download sales and subscription services.”
MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s iTunes Music Store surpassed 300 million songs sold on March 2, 2005 and surpassed 500 million songs on July 18, 2005. Thats’ over 200 million songs right there, in only 4 and a half months. It’s a safe bet that of the 184 million songs sold in the U.S. that Garrity mentions, almost all of them were sold by Apple. So, Apple is slowing down the growth of legitimate download sales? Come on. Apple created the market and it responsible for nearly all of its growth. Apple’s slowing down subscription services somewhat, maybe, since Apple doesn’t offer that option (mainly because it still hasn’t proven to be worth it), but consumers clearly seem to want to own their music much more than they want to rent it, as Apple proven over half a billion times. The only real growth Apple has slowed is the growth of their competitors.
Garrity continues, “Even the CD presents DRM issues, because Apple has not licensed Fair Play for inclusion on copy-protected discs, thus making secure CDs incompatible with the iPod, the most popular portable player with more then 15 million units sold.”
MacDailyNews Take: Those so-called CDs are not Red Book compliant, so they are not even CDs. Apple has sold well over 21 million iPods and counting.
Full article here.
The only people whining are portable digital device makers, online music outfits, and DRM peddlers that are not named Apple. Consumers, meanwhile, are happily buying iPods, importing music from Red Book compliant Compact Discs that they own, and using the iTunes Music Store on both Macs and PCs. The whining that we hear is coming from companies that are losing or have already lost to Apple’s superior symbiotic music solution, iPod+iTunes+iTunes Music Store, not from consumers.
The online music outfits are quite unhappy because the music they sell can’t easily and seamlessly be played on the device most people have chosen to own, Apple’s iPod. The portable digital music player makers are unhappy because very few want their players. People obviously want iPods instead and also wish to utilize Apple’s iTunes Music Store for it’s large library, podcast features, liberal DRM, consistent pricing, exclusives, etc. Microsoft is doubly unhappy because their proprietary WMA DRM is not the de facto standard for portable digital music player or online music services. These three factions, the online music outfits, the portable digital music player makers, and Microsoft, will continue the wails of their death throes via willing and/or ignorant media outlets, but that doesn’t mean that Apple has to change a thing until or unless they see a sound business case for doing so.
It’s the losers (Napster, Microsoft, Sony, Creative, iRiver, RealNetworks, etc.) that are whining. Not music buyers. Not music player buyers. Not Apple. Apple is too busy selling iPods and music online to care about the losers’ sour grapes.
Lastly, achieving a monopoly is legal. It’s monopoly abuse that is illegal, as Microsoft knows all too well. Apple isn’t forcing anyone to buy iPods or use their iTunes Music Store. Consumers are choosing to do so of their own free will. In droves.
[UPDATE: 8/13, 10:05am ET: Changed headline.]
The New Zealand Herald serves up a steaming pile of iPod FUD – August 11, 2005
The de facto standard for legal digital online music files: Apple’s protected MPEG-4 Audio (.m4p) – December 15, 2004