“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.
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