“Apple Computer Inc.’s dominant iTunes music download service is about to get tough new competition today from a powerful pair of rivals — software titan Microsoft Corp. and music video broadcaster MTV Networks. The new service, called Urge, will charge buyers the same price as iTunes’ popular 99-cent song downloads. But Urge also will let users download to their personal computer and listen to any recording in its 2-million-song catalog for $9.95 a month. Users who pay $14.95 a month will be able to copy their songs onto portable music players and listen to them wherever they want, thanks to anticopying software from Microsoft that prevents music piracy,” Hiawatha Bray reports for The Boston Globe. “While many competitors such as Napster, Yahoo Inc., RealNetworks Inc.’s Rhapsody, and even Microsoft’s own MSN service have entered the online music business in recent years, all have failed to shake Apple’s grip on the market.”
“But Urge begins life with a severe handicap: Its music downloads won’t be playable on the Apple iPod, which has more than 70 percent of the market for portable music players, according to the market research firm NPD Group. Instead, they must be played on competing players such as the Zen line from [beleaguered] Creative Technology Ltd.,” Bray reports.
“Jason Hirschhorn, MTV Networks’ chief digital officer, a business unit of the entertainment conglomerate Viacom International Inc., admitted that Urge poses no immediate threat to Apple’s lead in Internet music. Indeed, Hirschhorn said that Urge was created to cement a strong Internet identity for MTV, not to compete against Apple or other Internet music services like Napster and Rhapsody. ”It’s not about beating Apple,” he said. ”It’s not about beating Rhapsody.” In fact, MTV has paired with Apple to sell some of its TV shows as downloads on the iTunes site, and Hirschhorn said he’d like to expand the MTV-Apple relationship,” Bray reports. “Urge is wholly owned by MTV Networks, with Microsoft acting as the developer of the underlying technology. But Microsoft clearly has a strong commitment to the venture. It has embedded the Urge software in the newest version of its Windows Media Player program, available as a free download for computers running Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system beginning today. The new media player is incompatible with computers that run Apple’s Macintosh operating system.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: URGE: Just 2/3rds of iTunes’ library in an iPod-incompatible format. It is simply not a threat to Apple’s dominance. Napster, Real, and whatever outfit is still struggling along on Apple’s table scraps should be seriously worried; MTV might end up getting most of Apple’s leftovers.
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EMI Music Chairman: Music subscription services like Napster and Rhapsody haven’t beeen huge – January 23, 2006
Study shows Apple iTunes Music Store pay-per-download model preferred over subscription service – April 11, 2005
MTV’s and Microsoft’s URGE should concern also-rans like Real, Napster and Sony – not Apple – May 15, 2006
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