“Like thousands of others, I got an iPod nano for Christmas. It’s a gorgeous object,” Simon Caulkin writes for The Observer. “This tiny object does a lot more than play music: as part of a larger system with iTunes and the iTunes music store, it defines a new relationship between customer and producer and reshapes an industry. One day all products and services will be like this.”
“The first unexpected thing the iPod has done is make estranged customers like me music buyers again,” Caulkin writes. “What’s more, it’s possible to buy on impulse: hearing something on a film soundtrack or radio show, you no longer have to go to HMV or Amazon (or more likely just forget about it), you download it straight away – instant gratification… No thanks to the record industry, but I’m enjoying being a customer again because it’s on my own terms.”
“And that’s the second thing about the iPod: it puts you, not them, in control. Basically, the record labels are devotees of the Henry Ford business model: ‘You can have any music you want so long as it’s what I want to give you.’ But using the cyberspace jukebox, you’re no longer at their mercy. You don’t have to pay for the four filler tracks on every album. You don’t have to buy albums at all,” Caulkin writes. “The iPod is certainly not perfect. Incompatibility with other formats means that at one level it perpetrates its own version of Henry Fordism: ‘You can have anything you like so long as it’s Apple.’ This is the more irritating because the music store’s coverage is by no means universal.”
MacDailyNews Note: iTunes can rip music into many formats (AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3, WAV) from CDs. Accordingly, you can have anything you like on your iPod, except from sources that stupidly exclude well-heeled Mac users (Apple’s iTunes works on both Macs and Windows) and have tied themselves to Microsoft’s dubiously-named and failing “PlaysForSure” scheme using Microsoft’s proprietary DRM.
Caulkin continues, “A large part of the iPod’s appeal is how easy it is to use – put another way, the fact that nothing gets between you and what you want from it. This leads to the third, most important and least obvious of the iPod’s trumps: the power of ‘pull’. Most companies distribute their product by ‘push’. They estimate demand, build according to the estimate and then sell (‘push’) what they have built… When, as with iTunes, the product is ‘pulled’ by the customer, on the other hand, the engines required for ‘push’ are redundant. It’s like using gravity instead of fighting against it. Pull inherently uses fewer resources; tells managers directly what consumers want; and above all delivers on customers’ own terms.”
Full article here.
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The de facto standard for legal digital online music files: Apple’s protected MPEG-4 Audio (.m4p) – December 15, 2004