Microsoft shows fear: issues release about music phones already on market, calls iPod ‘proprietary’

“I am all for choices, but in the consumer world, a lot of choices can also add up to confusion. While Apple has one music store among all iPods, the Microsoft world has many stores, all with different UI’s and navigational procedures, as well as different approaches to content access and playback and business models,” Tim Bajarin writes for Technology Pundits. “Apple is extremely successful with a closed architecture because they make it all work together simply and easily and in fact, minimizes the amount of choices a consumer has to make when it comes to buying music and placing it on a mobile music player.”

“I have no doubt that Apple could have another hit on their hands with this previously announced iPod phone because of this single UI and ease of use approach,” Bajarin writes. “But, I am also cautious in suggesting that it will be a run away success given the fact that Apple has to have another partner in this new ‘closed architecture’ model; a wireless carrier. No matter which carrier they finally launch this phone with, the carrier holds some important cards in their hands via their back end billing system and their normal demands for a piece of the action. “In a sense, they hold the keys to its success almost more then Apple does. Sure, the carrier has a lot to win if it is successful, as does Apple. But, no longer does Apple control all the marketing and channels like they do today with their standalone iPod’s.”

Bajarin writes, “Interestingly, this could eventually lead Apple to something I suggested in an earlier post. Given the lack of control Apple will have with carriers, it might make sense for them to become their own MVNO (Mobile Voice Network Operator) and follow Disney down this same path in order to have more control of their content and services. In the end, this could be the best way for Apple to keep their overall control over their “iPod” economy and, perhaps even more importantly, it could allow them to be even more innovative with the phones and their platform if they don’t have any restrictions imposed on them by their carrier partner. As usual, we don’t really know what Steve Jobs and Apple will debut on Sept 7th.”

Bajarin also reports that Microsoft “has gone on the offensive a week before Apple’s event [and] sent out a press release touting the fact that there are dozens of phones already on the market that support their Pocket PC and SmartPhone operating systems that already are hand held music devices, and in fact, have been available since 2002.”

Bajarin provides excerpts from Microsoft’s press release, including these tidbits:

If you’ve been waiting for a phone that plays music, you’re in luck. There are more than 70 music phones on the market today, from 41 device manufacturers, available through 68 mobile operators in 48 countries, based on Windows Mobile and Windows Media technology.

Unlike Apple’s iPod approach that locks people into a proprietary device and music service, people with any PlaysForSure device, including Windows Mobile-based phones with Windows Media Player Mobile, have the choice to experience music on their PC, phone or dedicated media device. This includes music from more than a dozen online services – including MSN Music and Napster, which even allows for transfer of subscription music to these phones.

Choice matters just as much to operators, who may not want to get locked in to one company’s business model. Operators may want the flexibility of licensing, building their own, or white-labeling a service. Companies that don’t make that possible may find it difficult to work in this ecosystem. A number of operators, including O2, Orange, T-Mobile SDA Music and Vodafone, have begun to offer their own branded music services and devices using the Windows Mobile and Windows Media platforms.

Full article, with much more, here.
Microsoft’s preemptive press release should have been titled, “Microsoft’s Fear of Apple iTunes Phone is Palpable.”

Microsoft has supposedly had music phones on the market for over three years and nobody even noticed! They must be about as wondrous as other Microsoft products.

Nobody cares about phones based on Microsoft’s so-called “PlaysForSure” sticker program and proprietary Windows-only WMA format. And the consumer has choice, Microsoft et al. just don’t like the choice consumers have made. If you didn’t know these things before, Microsoft stupidly tells you all about them with their press release.

Apple’s iPod+iTunes+iTunes Music Store is the only major solution on the market that works for both Mac and Windows users.

Related articles:
Apple introduces iPod nano – September 07, 2005
Apple, Motorola & Cingular debut world’s first iTunes mobile phone – September 07, 2005
Motorola ROKR Apple iTunes mobile phone availability dates for Europe, North America, and Asia – September 07, 2005
Over 1,000 accessories now available for Apple iPod – September 07, 2005
Apple introduces iTunes 5, iTunes Music Store catalog tops two million songs – September 07, 2005
Apple teams with Acura, Audi, Honda, Volkswagen to deliver iPod vehicle integration – September 07, 2005
Harry Potter digital audiobooks debut exclusively on Apple iTunes Music Store – September 07, 2005
Apple announces Motorola ROKR iTunes phone, Cingular partnership, iTunes 5 – September 07, 2005
Apple’s vs. Microsoft’s music DRM: whose solution supports more users? – August 17, 2005
Apple’s roadkill whine in unison: ‘incompatibility is slowing growth of digital music’ – August 13, 2005
Microsoft offers six tips for not buying an Apple iPod shuffle – March 22, 2005
Microsoft debuts ‘PlaysForSure’ logo to signify incompatiblity with Apple iPod, iTunes Music Store – October 16, 2004

37 Comments

  1. Bajarin also reports that Microsoft “has gone on the offensive a week before Apple’s event [and] sent out a press release touting the fact that there are dozens of phones already on the market that support their Pocket PC and SmartPhone operating systems that already are hand held music devices, and in fact, have been available since 2002.”

    uh so?

    Way to confuse the reader..

    No storage, shit softare, lame interface.

    Next.

  2. LLLLLOOOOOLLL!

    Talk about pot calling kettle black!

    Microsoft’s whole bloody empire is built on a propriatary format!!

    What’s it feel like Bill to be in Apple’s position for a change eh???

    You don’t like it do you?

    LLLLLOOOOLLL!

  3. “Apple is extremely successful with a closed architecture because they make it all work together simply and easily and in fact, minimizes the amount of choices a consumer has to make when it comes to buying music and placing it on a mobile music player.”

    Nah, closed architecures never work, look at the broadcast TV and Radio.

  4. Microsoft’s clearly got to fight against Apple’s momentum somehow. This seems the most straightforward method: facts.

    Apple’s likely to try to “invent” the music phone today, the way they “invented” podcasting. But the truth is, there have been phones on the market (and in my pocket) for a LONG time.

    With storage.

    This is just a new product in the iPod/iTunes family. Which is fine, but Apple has a way of making it seem like they’ve invented something when they haven’t. MS suffers from that, so they gotta do what they can to take the wind out of the sails.

  5. Microsoft issues a pre-emptive press release bigging up its product before the release of the itunes phone, and MDN focusses on microsoft’s ‘fear’.

    Apple issues a pre-emptive press release bigging up its product in response to the release of HMV and Virgin’s music download products and MDN has a party over it. (http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/6798/)

    I know this is a mac site, but to be taken seriously you need at least token objectivity surely? Granted, though, the microsoft release was more of a negative one in its direct attack on itunes/ipod.

  6. “Cingular i”

    Hey blakeintosh, I also saw the “Cingular i” story headline before MDN pulled it. I guess they let the kitty out of the bag ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    ITG

  7. two points:
    1) the closed architecture argument is made by theorists (not business people). consumer confusion is the largest barrier to an economically successful mass market. a parallel is the automotive industry. before henry ford revolutionalized that industry with “standards” aka closed architecture, there were many automotive manufacturers making custom vehicles. narrowing the choices brought us paved roads and $3/gallon gasoline. this industry is standing by for another revolution as they winnow out the best alternative fuel model. i’m sure the eventual “winner” of that competition will be accused of being “closed” rather than open.

    2) this is just one announcement and regardless of whether it is boring or outrageous, it will be followed by many others. these things are tactical to apple. that’s all you, i or the pundits will be allowed to see by apple. their strategy is a business secret. if they told us, we would all have to be killed (or be given a free dell).

  8. No offence intended to youMarko or your father but, on the assumption that you live in the US/are American, your analogy falls a little flat. Many Americans refused to buy foreign cars not as a statement about the quality of these vehicles but out of some sense of patriotism.

    In the case of MS versus Apple, you clearly are prioritising quality, or, in the converse, you are choosing against mediocrity. Either way the principle which is animating your decision has nothing to do with nationalism.

    If your point was simply that there are some companies you cannot ever see yourself buying from, then that is fair enough. Comparing MS (and their business practices) to Honda/Toyota/BMW/Saab/etc. is, however, neither fair nor accurate.

  9. “Unlike Apple’s iPod approach that locks people into a proprietary device and music service, people with any PlaysForSure device, including Windows Mobile-based phones with Windows Media Player Mobile, have the choice to experience music on their PC, phone or dedicated media device. “

    This is worded incorrectly. You can experience iTMS songs on their PC and dedicated media device (iPod) and will be able to do so on a iTunes-enabled phone. Yes, the media device has to be an iPod and the phone has to run iTunes, but that’s not what the sentence means.

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