MTV’s and Microsoft’s URGE should concern also-rans like Real, Napster and Sony – not Apple

“With Microsoft’s muscle backing it up, Viacom’s MTV will enter the digital music and content field by launching the public beta of its URGE music and video store Wednesday,” Alyce Lomax writes for The Motley Fool. “Will this add up to big problems for Apple, the current top dog of digital music?”

Lomax writes, “Although URGE will make content available to 100 different devices, the big deal is that it won’t play on Apple’s iPods. (Bear in mind that some of Viacom’s video content is available through iTunes.) While I do have to give a lot of points to this musical offering given MTV’s content and clout, the iPod/iTunes juggernaut is still the hip spot. (Given recent developments, like lower price points on iPod offerings, Apple has no intention of easing up, either.) URGE will probably appeal only to those who have no interest in Apple’s products — which should add up to a more urgent competitive concern for the likes of RealNetworks, Napster, Sony, and the rest than it will for Apple.”

Full article here.
Apple’s Holy Trinity, iPod+iTunes+iTunes Store, will remain unaffected. There are simply too many iPods out there. Without access to iPod, URGE will be left to fight it out in the same old depressing “Also-Ran Shakeout” over Apple’s leftover crumbs. It’s two, two sad consolation races in one! The first contest determines who can supply content to devices used by few and the second will show us who gets to provide devices to play content from services that few people use. The losers get nothing and the “winners” get to eat Apple’s leftovers – which may prove to be a source of some nice profits or we probably wouldn’t still be seeing new entrants like URGE.

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Related articles:
MTV’s and Microsoft’s iPod-incompatible URGE online music outfit faces uphill battle – May 15, 2006
Oppenheimer downgrades RealNetworks based on Microsoft’s ‘URGE’ partnership with MTV – December 15, 2005
MTV-Microsoft URGE music service not targeting iPod, iTunes users; Real CEO PlayedForSure? – December 13, 2005
MTV and Microsoft team up for new digital music service ‘URGE’ – December 13, 2005


  1. The ultimate black eye is that this proves the biggest problem with a subscription service!

    Namely, if you subscribe to a WMA service for $15 a month, you can easily switch between them (Naspter, Yahoo!, URge are all commodity WMA subscriptions with little differentiation or exclusing tracks).

    So yeah, Yahoo! and Naspter (and Real) should be troubled – but the switching cost from an iPod/iTunes customer to URGE is huge – they hav eto give up their iPod!

  2. Taking into consideration that Urge will be the default service in most of the world’s computer it is reasonable to assume that it will gain some market share but not enough to impact Apple. I would be worried if I was Napster or Real.

    In my opinion the biggest threat to Apple is cell phones. Apple needs to come up with more attractive technologies for cell phones or maybe its own phone. The ROKR was a step in the right direction but they will need to do a better job. I can assure you that the cell phone is where MS will be focusing on. Gates and Balmer know that they lost the MP3 only device market

  3. Not much going on in Apple World today. Hope everyone enjoys this stuff as the ‘holy trinity’ as MDN puts it, is, one day soon, all there will be to talk about.

    Macs, the OS, the entire 4% of the personal computer market, all done.

  4. “but the switching cost from an iPod/iTunes customer to URGE is huge – they hav eto give up their iPod!”

    Precisely. It’s called VENDOR LOCK IN. And you idiots happily endorse it.

  5. …the thousands of third-party iPod accessories. Add one or more to the unbeatable Holy Trinity! Maybe accessories are…. the Pope? Angels? Hhmmmm….

    Interesting how you can become unbeatable by making the best products, instead of making mediocre products and clinging to a monopoly like some we could name…

  6. MDN might be dead-on, however, it could also be the first sharp edge Apple has had to really contend with in this market. While MTV isn’t what it used to be, it still holds enough clout to make a dent in the likes of the iTMS. I’m not much of a music video consumer anymore and therefore I don’t know what the quantitative difference is between what Music Videos iTMS and MTV will offer is. My feeling is that, if MTV comes out with significantly more music video offerings than iTMS, Apple may feel a pinch, or even a bump from this venture.

    As always, I want Apple to keep and exceed its own market share, and IF there’s any real competition on the horizon for Apple it should only serve to make it a better product and service.

  7. Dear abc,

    Ahem… ‘idiots’?

    I think not, bearing in mind that we all get to choose one player or another, and of the choice available, the iPod seems to be very much the thinking person’s choice.

    And I’d guess a lot of people agree.

    Still, I’m easy if you like to use something different — different strokes…

    Best wishes from the UK.

  8. abc, that only applies because these subscription services use WMA standard, which is a crappy format in my opinion. The services themselves are being locked in by MS. All these services would work with the iPod if they were MP3, but MS isn’t really aiming for that to happen…..

  9. MTV plays music videos?! Wow, when did they start doing that again?

    Seriously, MDN is absolutely correct. MS has no traction in the consumer music space and MTV has no traction when it comes to buying an MP3 player. Unless MTV gets exclusive content, what’s the advantage of using their service?

    Fighting for the crumbs…

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