Music lovers make Apple’s iTunes Music Store AAC format the de facto standard for online music

“Experts think confusion over [conflicting formats between the major players in digital music] is hampering the conversion from sales of physical CDs to all-digital sales. Mike McGuire, research director for digital research company Gartner G2, sees digital downloading sales increasing from an estimated $335 million to $1.4 billion in 2009, which is pretty impressive but still only 10 percent of CD sales,” Phil Kloer writes for Cox News Service.

“And if or when Amazon launches a highly publicized new service that, like all the others, is not compatible with the iPod, it will only exacerbate the problem. Although still a blip on the national radar, digital music incompatibility has made enough of a noise that the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to look into it this summer but took no action,” Kloer writes. “From a business standpoint, Apple has little incentive to make nice with the competition. There are more than 60 types of portable digital players on the market, but 59 of them are jockeying for less than 10 percent of the market, and one, the iPod, has 90-plus percent. ‘It’s a whole bunch of others grappling for leftovers at this point,’ McGuire says.”

“Complicating the scenario even further for the consumer are the different models of downloading. Apple sells songs for 99 cents, which the buyer then owns, to burn onto CDs or listen to on an iPod. But several new services are trying to convince people to rent music rather than buy it. Yahoo, Napster and Rhapsody all offer monthly subscriptions where you pay a monthly fee ($7 to $15) and can download all the music you want — thousands of songs if your computer will hold them,” Kloer writes.

Kloer writes, “The catch is you have to keep paying the fee forever to keep the music; as soon as you stop, a code makes the song vanish. It’s as if you canceled a magazine subscription, McGuire says, and the magazine sent someone to your house to take away all the back issues. ‘Most people want to own their stuff,’ says McGuire, who is not bullish on the rental model. (In addition, the songs won’t play on iPods, and you have to pay extra to burn them on a CD.)”

Full article here.
First of all, how can there be confusion over conflicting formats between the “major players in digital music,” if there is only really one major player, Apple, and a bunch of also-rans “grappling for leftovers?” Second of all, Apple’s iTunes jukebox software and iTunes Music Stores in 20 countries (with the world’s largest libraries) are the only cross-platform solution for both Macs and Windows PC users . The also-ran services are all Windows-only, Mac users need not apply (not a smart business model, by the way, since studies show Mac users tend to be better educated and make more money than Windows PC users and therefore have more disposable income), yet these same closed music services whine about “openness” and “compatibility.” Hypocrites.

The only entities with a “problems being exacerbated” are those online music outfits trying to sell music for portable players that nobody wants and hardware makers trying to sell portable music players that won’t work seamlessly with the world’s leading legal online music service and jukebox software. Consumers have choice, the only problem is that the Microsofts, Napsters, and Creatives of the world just don’t like the fact that they aren’t the consumers’ choice.

Apple needs to keep on doing what they’re doing, crumpling up and tossing the Rios and the BuyMusics of the world into the trash as they go about their business. A song is a song is a song, and the only place where both Mac and Windows users can get them for their portable players, most of which happen to be iPods, is Apple’s iTunes Music Store: the most open legal music service available.

Want to avoid any so-called “confusion?” Most people have already figured out how to do so: buy an iPod, use iTunes to rip your CDs and transfer to your iPod, and buy online music from the iTunes Music Store via your Mac or Windows PC. What’s “confusing” about that?

Related articles:
iPod, iTunes, and iTunes Music Store competitors lack Apple’s ‘seamless integration and ease’ – August 28, 2005
Apple’s roadkill whine in unison: ‘incompatibility is slowing growth of digital music’ – August 13, 2005
The New Zealand Herald serves up a steaming pile of iPod FUD – August 11, 2005
FUD campaign against Apple’s iPod+iTunes fails to stick – April 08, 2005
Apple’s iPod and iTunes competitors continue whining about FairPlay – February 07, 2005
The de facto standard for legal digital online music files: Apple’s protected MPEG-4 Audio (.m4p) – December 15, 2004


  1. One of the reasons why I think that both the iPod and The iTMS are so successful is because there is NO confusion.

    The iPod is straightforward and easy to use.
    The iTMS has a clear price structure and is easy to use.

    The competitors offerings are confusing, so consumers stay away from them.

  2. well, is’ been talked already tons of thosands times that I’m really sick to hear. there is no confusion on format. only reason is that ipod is no compatible with other music service which is run by windows. but many people use mp3 format which is sure to be played by ipod. if you use itunes, you don’t have to be confused. it’s the best music service ever!

    by the way, in my opinion subcription service is the stupid thing ever I heard. you won’t keep your favorite songs if you don’t buy them. stopping pay for this service, all music will be disappeared. well, if you like those kind of service, why don’t listen to radio or satellite radio. they are much better than that.

  3. We’ll see how badly the greedy record companies screw things up with wanting variable prices for songs from ITMS. Talk about confusion!

    Subscription services are the darlings of the MS world, bad for customers but good for guaranteed income for the companies’ offering them, with little pressure to offer better and better products. Little wonder that MS is in bed with these scumbags, as it’s all Windows only. Compatibility? Pathetic hypocrites all.

  4. Are the record companies also going to ask for higher prices for the other music download/subscription services? Let the other services increase their prices first. I wonder what will happen to their sales?

  5. Seems to me that I read recently that the ‘rental’ companies, in business for more than two years, are in hot water with the performers’ community because they have not, as of yet, passed ANY of their ‘income’ on to the musicians. Apparently only Apple has kept its bargain with the musicians and forwarded their share of the artists’ fees. LOL. No wonder you don’t really hear the musicians bitching at Apple (except for the one or two groups under pressure from the record labels and M$ to complain about ‘incompatibilities’).

    Seems like ‘rental’ is not working for the musicians, either!

    MW-‘higher’ as in Apple’s share of the music market can only go HIGHER!

  6. And BTW, to keep on topic here, it’s pretty obvious the only confusion is in the minds of the music labels and these industry analyst experts.

    Get a clue. If you really want to know what’s going on and why there’s no confusion at the consumer level, all you have to do is just ask people why they buy iPods and use iTunes.

    And listen.

    Don’t give them “what if” scenarios, don’t ask them if they know about or would want to use subscription music services, don’t ask blah, blah, yada-yada. Don’t ask anything, except why they buy iPods and use iTunes.

    And listen.

    Don’t go, “Yes, but…”

    Just listen. Then shut up, go away and figure it out. This ain’t rocket science.

  7. Confusion:

    Why hasn’t Bill Gates won yet. I thought suffering through Windows meant you had access to the best the world had to offer.

    The WMA format is being ignored you say? Aw…that’s not allowed, is it?

  8. Most people want to own their stuff,’ says McGuire, who is not bullish on the rental model. (In addition, the songs won’t play on iPods, and you have to pay extra to burn them on a CD.)”

    Fuck these douchebag analysts.

    When Janus first came out, they were signaling the end of iTunes… “Apple may have to come out with their own subscription now.. Janus will change the game…People won’t want Apple’s 99 cent model”

    What’s this? Months later, some dickwad analyst claims confidently that ‘people want to own their own music’ …

    Wow.. how prophetic.. All because none of those clunky services have caught on…

    Suddenly the trap of rented music is so much clearer… and the cost benefit is irrelevant..?

    *shakes head

    I know I’m preaching to the choir.. but remember this case, the next time some analyst makes a prediction based on ‘what he thinks people want/don’t want’

    They have no fuckin clue about people, they just watch the money..

  9. There are more than 60 types of portable digital players on the market, but 59 of them are jockeying for less than 10 percent of the market, and one, the iPod, has 90-plus percent.

    No kidding… you mean design actually matters ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”rolleyes” style=”border:0;” />

  10. oh well, all this “iTunes rules” talk is getting tiresome. I still can’t believe how they keep chewing on the 128kbps mantra. What about all the people who won’t never spend a dime on iTunes songs because they sound shitty compared to a CD – or at least 192kbps AAC? I know quite some amount of people who “would buy if…” – me included.

  11. “Experts” = Music label PR guys from Sony and EMI

    Just another article repeating the same nonsense about incompatibility hurting the download market. Playing from the same PR sheet to break Apple’s hold so that those labels can raise prices.

    I want to see a non-biased poll of consumers (iPod and non-iPod owners) and see if this incompatibility nonsense gets above 5%.

    And the PR onslaught continues…

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