Yet another ‘Apple iPod+iTunes limits choice, [insert name] will be strong competition’ article

“Apple Computer is becoming the Microsoft of digital music, and that’s not a good thing for either consumers or the music industry. The powerful combination of Apple’s iTunes online store and iPod audio/video players is grabbing so much market share that competitors — until now, at least — aren’t getting a toehold. Microsoft is often criticized for creating a ‘monoculture’ with its Windows operating system. More than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers run Windows, leaving little incentive or opportunity for operating-system competition,” Mike Langberg writes for The San Jose Mercury News. “Ironically, no one knows this better than Apple, with its Macintosh computers confined to a global market share well under 5 percent. Windows users have always faced a huge barrier to exit; they’d have to buy new computers and software to say goodbye to Microsoft.”

“Apple is now creating a similar kind of tollbooth. If you buy music or video clips from iTunes, they will only work on one portable player: the iPod. Once you’ve purchased several dozen albums from iTunes, it’s not likely you’ll switch away from the iPod. If you buy an iPod, it will only play music and video purchased online from one store: iTunes. You can’t try music downloads from rival services such as those offered by America Online, Napster, Rhapsody and Yahoo. Apple’s clout was clearly displayed earlier this month when the Cupertino company arm-twisted the major record labels into continuing to sell all songs at 99 cents. The labels wanted to price hot new singles higher, and older back-catalog tracks lower. But Apple still believes in one-size-fits-all. Whether or not that’s the best deal for consumers is hard to say, because no other music service is offering an alternative.”

Full article here.
Wait a second. Didn’t Langberg open his piece by saying Appe’s iPod+iTunes is “not a good thing for either consumers or the music industry?” So what’s with the wondering, “whether or not that’s the best deal for consumers is hard to say?” Didn’t you already tell us what to think from your opening line, Mike? Then Langberg writes that “no other music service is offering an alternative,” before launching into a paean for MTV’s and Microsoft’s URGE outfit. Schizo much, Mike?

MTV’s and Microsoft’s URGE will fail to touch Apple. How can we be so confident? Oh, just a whim and about fifty previous failures of other Windows-only outfits based on cobbling together Microsoft’s also-ran online music format with third-party digital music players that nobody wants or owns.

Microsoft and MTV might succeed in wiping Napster’s and Real’s services off the map and win the race for Apple’s table scraps, but that’s about the best they can expect. As long as these services can’t work with the iPod and exclude Mac users, they have no chance against Apple who makes iPods for every budget and offers an excellent free iTunes music jukebox with the built-in iTunes Music Store for both Mac and Windows PC users. By the way, Apple’s iPod supports these formats: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Music Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3 and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV, and AIFF.

As these outfits keep failing, what’s the recurring component of failure in every single case? Microsoft. Perhaps these new services ought to forgo the dead weight of Microsoft and maybe they’d have a real chance? Just a suggestion.

Yes, competition is good, but only when it’s good competition. Otherwise, it just ends up wasting time and money for consumers who make the wrong choice.

MacDailyNews/iPodDailyNews Note: Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. There will be limited posting today.

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Related articles:
MTV URGE will have hard time competing with also-rans Rhapsody, Yahoo and Napster, let alone Apple – May 21, 2006
USA Today reviews URGE music service: crashed often, not all videos played, trouble playing music – May 18, 2006
MTV, Microsoft URGE music service begins life with a severe handicap – May 17, 2006
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
EMI Music Chairman: Music subscription services like Napster and Rhapsody haven’t beeen huge – January 23, 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
Apple’s vs. Microsoft’s music DRM: whose solution supports more users? – August 17, 2005
Study shows Apple iTunes Music Store pay-per-download model preferred over subscription service – April 11, 2005

More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver gives up on digital media player market – May 23, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Sony’s Walkman Bean is cooked – February 13, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Dell dumps ‘DJ’ hard-drive MP3 player line – February 04, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: iRiver pulling out of Europe? – February 01, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Thomson gives up on MP3 player, CE markets – December 12, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: BenQ withdraws from MP3 player markets – November 28, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Olympus halts production of portable digital music players – November 09, 2005
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Rio is dead – August 26, 2005
Apple’s iPod has blood on its Click Wheel: Virgin Electronics is dead – March 08, 2005


  1. >>If you buy an iPod, it will only play music and video purchased online from one store: iTunes.

    So all those mp3s and video podcasts –none received through iTunes, by the way– really aren’t playing on my iPod?? I must be hallucinating then.

    When will the misinformation stop??!

  2. With music players you have the choice of two proprietary monocultures: Apple’s or Microsoft’s. It doesn’t matter that Microsoft will license its proprietary format because the entire enterprise is still controlled by Microsoft and the record companies. Apple, at least, has a history of opposing the record companies; they have stuck to 99 cents because there is no doubt that it’s what customers want.

    Competition in the music store business is a mirage because there is only one source for the goods. Apple is the first company in decades to have something to hold over the heads of record execs to make sure they behave. If they gave that up, things would get ugly.

    Magic word “really”.

  3. I love those authors who advocate the free market according to Lenin — share the market so everyone has an equal chance. What crap! This has nothing to do with equality and everything to do with what people will buy.

    If Apple makes the best product, or markets the best, or convinces people they are the best, or finds a better price point, fine. They are not preventing other companies from having access to the market. And to extend the analysis, neither is Microsoft. M$ Winbloats may suck, but they have a right to suck if that is their business model and/or they are still able to serve their shareholders. If the market gets fed up enough, M$ will lose market share and may, someday, be forced not to suck. Unlikely, but it is the way free markets work. Apple can grab a 90% market share anytime it wanted OS X IF they can design a model that is effective enough/well funded enough and is accompanied by a product that sells enough.

    If someone does something to make themselves better than Apple is at iPod/iTunes, consumers will decide that and buy Product X. (Witness cell phones and iTunes….even the power of iTunes could not save a crappy phones). So, if Apple or M$ holds 90% of their respective market, and that makes it all the harder….too bad….it’s called good business. It is not a question of whether OS X is better than Winbloats or iTunes is better than Product X….the question is whether people THINK that is the case.

  4. The music companies never said that they will reduce the song prices on the old songs. It’s what we interpret.

    They just mentioned that they needed variable pricing. The newer songs should be priced higher!

  5. Hey Mr. Ferguson:

    It would be nice if EasyWMA did indeed convert WMA’s purchased from the likes of Napster, Rhapsody, etc. into MP3s or AACs but I’m afraid it doesn’t. It can only convert unprotected (ripped from one’s own CDs for example) WMA files, thereby making it useless for converting online purchases to iPod playable format.

    However, if one did really want to use other services or switch from the iPod (I wouldn’t quite know why….. maybe for a built-in microphone? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  6. Voyager –

    Thanks for the input. Like I said, I haven’t purchased it or even tried it but noticed that there are programs that could conceivably allow you to convert from other formats.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat with a Mac!©

  7. I doubt EasyWMA does convert protected WMA files. It is most likely a program that works just like iTunes for Windows which automagically converts unprotected WMA files to AAC. That is nice because it reduces the proliferation of WMA files which many Windows users produce and (illegally) share. However it doesnt help businesses who want to sell music protected under Microsoft’s schema. While I prefer Fairplay to Microsoft’s digital protection, I can understand why people would turn to it and it is not only because they want to compete with the Apple iTune music store. For example, libraries may want to rent audiobooks or digital books in the future. This cannot be done currently with Fairplay and it doesn’t leave many options to those who need that functionality. So, ultimately, those who need to protect their assets will have to adopt Microsoft products and this will progressively increase Microsoft’s market share. Apple will soon have to decide what their most important asset is, the iPod or an ubicuous digital protection technology. It is a tough call.

  8. I guess its about time for competitors to consider AAC and Quicktime to power their music store, the de facto standard has been defined.

    (tongue in cheek) “Maybe Microsoft should throw in the towel and stop going their separate way, lest they are doomed as a niche player forever”.

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