Here come the Apple iTunes Music Store wannabes… again

“Apple Computer’s iTunes may dominate the legitimate market for digital music, but that doesn’t mean the company’s competitors are sitting still,” Troy Wolverton reports for

“On Tuesday, Time Warner’s AOL division relaunched its Music Now download service, adding streaming Internet radio and thousands of music videos. Separately, start-up company SpiralFrog announced a new advertising-supported music download service that will feature music from Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music Group,” Wolverton reports.

“One thing that could hurt both services is their choice of encoding technology. Music Now relies on Microsoft’s (MSFT – commentary – Cramer’s Take) Windows Media software. Although SpiralFrog has not given out many details about its service, a source close to the company’s deal with Universal said that SpiralFrog also will likely rely on Windows Media,” Wolverton reports.

Wolverton reports, “The problem for both companies is that Microsoft is coming out with its own music service and portable player — dubbed Zune — later this year. Zune will be incompatible with the Windows Media players and download services. While Microsoft has said that it will support both the Zune and Windows Media formats, some observers have questioned its commitment to the latter, given the Zune effort.”

“Perhaps more critically, it’s likely that neither Music Now nor SpiralFrog will be compatible with Apple’s iPod digital music players. iPods account for more than 75% of the digital music players sold in the U.S., meaning that any service incompatible with them will have a very limited market,” Wolverton reports. “Although analysts have long touted subscription services, they’ve largely struggled against iTunes, not to mention the illicit file sites.”

Full article here.
Puleeze. What’s next, more Tommy Lee billboards in Times Square? These aren’t “iTunes wannabes” or, Jobs forbid, “iTunes killers.” These are lead balloons. These outfits, like all the others are just trying to grab for Apple’s paltry leftovers. And good luck to them. Competition is good, but – call us crazy – we’d like to see Mac users included before we jump onboard with any of these outfits.

After all, Apple’s iTunes serves both Mac and Windows customers, as does Apple’s iPod. Obviously, all of these services feel they need to use Microsoft’s DRM (now cracked wide open, BTW). Why they make this decision is another question, as using Microsoft’s DRM has proven to be a death sentence for many services for years now.

Boil it all down and the basic question still remains: why can’t Microsoft make a DRM that’s Mac compatible? What exactly is the problem, Redmond?

Related articles:
Universal Music and SpiralFrog to launch free ad-supported music service – August 29, 2006
AOL revamps online music outfit; still iPod- and Mac-incompatible – August 29, 2006
Microsoft’s PlaysForSure cracked: FairUse4WM strips Windows Media DRM – August 25, 2006
NPD: Apple retains huge lead with 75.6% share of U.S. music player market – August 17, 2006
More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Dell’s ‘DJ Ditty’ flash-based MP3 player is dead – August 22, 2006
More blood on Apple iTunes Music Store’s play button: MyCokeMusic is dead – June 20, 2006
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
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has blood on its play button: is dead – March 28, 2004


  1. iTMS + iPod is a MONSTER, and noone knows how to deal with it. I love it. The old paradigm is dying a slow, painful death. People and companies are injecting pain into their spines because of their own unwillingness to change. What a bunch of suckers.

  2. MacDailyNews Take is dead on target.

    Why can’t Mafiasoft make their DRM Mac-compatible? Are they incompetent? Is it technically impossible? What is MS’s real reason?

    Why would any service use Microsft’s DRM when it’s been cracked an it isn’t protecting anything? Why would the music labels allow it?

    There are too many iPods out there to challenge iTunes Music Store (in the U.S. at least – where all these services operate mainly or exclusively and where most of the $ is made).

  3. Cpt. Obvious,

    Who said you can’t take a position in a headline?

    As for the position taken, it’s pretty well backed up by not only market share and historical performance, but also by the “Related articles” listed above (reference “Blood”).

  4. For Me and Riley Lee

    From Engadget

    The service and device will not be PlaysForSure compliant, meaning you will not be able to use your Zune player with Napster or Vongo, for example. This will be an entirely new system. Microsoft will continue to support and develop for their PlaysForSure initiative, but all things PlaysForSure are handled by two entirely separate division that will not have any crossover.

  5. MDN is a bit off on one aspect. “Why they make this decision is another question, as using Microsoft’s DRM has proven to be a death sentence for many services for years now.”

    The reason they make this decision is Apple is not licensing their DRM. I think many would leap at the chance to use Apple’s DRM solution because they would have much greater chance of success with access to the iPod users.

    We can’t have it both ways MDN. You can’t chide people for using MS DRM as though they willingly chose against Apple. Apple won’t license it so MS is the only licensing option left. They’re not being anti-competitive, they just only have one choice.

  6. To be perfectly fair, Apple makes a handsome profit on a small marketshare, anywhere from 5 to 10%, and so we should let these other companies try to make a profit from their tiny marketshare too! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    If they can.

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