Attacks likely to prove futile against Apple’s iPod+iTunes de facto standard

Apple Store“Taking aim at parts of the iTunes-plus-iPod system, now that it has become a de facto standard, is unlikely to work. At one end of the spectrum are the internet services that want to outflank iTunes by finding different ways to introduce people to new music. Changing this process of discovery – usually by adopting the sort of social networking tools employed by MySpace – is at the heart of services such as MTV’s Urge,” Richard Waters writes for The Financial Times.

“At the other end of the spectrum are devices that try to outclass the iPod. Sony’s PSP may have been invented for games but it has a screen that is far better suited for watching videos than the iPod. In between are new distribution mechanisms that change the way music is downloaded to portable devices. In Asia, where the mobile phone rules, accessing music over a cellular network is already a big business,” Waters writes.

Waters writes, “Innovations such as these will find a market and Apple’s position will undoubtedly be eroded somewhat, to the relief of an entertainment industry that does not want to see it become the gatekeeper to all digital media. Its 85 percent market share of digital music in the US is twice Wal-Mart’s share of the DVD retail business, and even that is far too large for Hollywood’s comfort.

“Yet Apple is still the only company that can tie it all together. Others have set out to copy it but are far behind. Microsoft, after a false start, wants to build a rival ecosystem of its own, called Zunes, while Sony has been cleaning up its Connect service after a weak beginning. Watching these companies chase Apple, though, is like watching rival search engines take on Google,” Waters writes.

Waters writes, “For now, Apple looks well placed to absorb all these innovations into its digital media ecosystem, either through its own inventions or becoming a copyist in its own right. Recent hints by a senior executive seemed to point to an iPod phone as the next product to hit the market and no doubt social networking through iTunes will be coming soon. As long as those white headphone cords maintain their allure and Mr Jobs does not put a foot wrong, Apple should be able to stay at the head of the pack.”

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


  1. Why are there so many articles that talk about what Apple is gonna do after Jobs leaves?

    How do we know he isn’t gonna be doing this into his freakin’ seventies?

    So, many people can’t deal with Apple’s success. It’s as if they are still waiting for the bell to toll for Apple.


  2. This article is correct. It’s very very difficult to unseat the de facto standard.

    Now all of us Apple owns the market chest thumpers can go consider this; Windows is the de facto standard on the desktop. And that “ain’t gonna” change any time soon either.

    Apple has 75% of the market and you believe they are unstoppable. M$ has 95% of an even larger market and you think they are going out of business next week.

    No RDF here huh?


    Create a portable music device with it’s own integrated music store, removeable chargeable battery, FM/AM radio, a seperate charger with automatic hard drive backup and DSL modem directly to music store servers.

    It’s a complete system any fool on the street could use and buy without needing this thing called a computer. Especially since Windows sucks so bad, losing people’s music.

    iPods are still only good for computer knowledgable folks, the majority HATE computers.


  4. everything must pass Msoft Apple even you and I guy When is the question – in the 60’s people couldn’t conceive of IBM or GM going losing market share. I’m young enough that I too will see the two major computer brands go by the way og GM

  5. Jerry T,

    iPod+iTunes don’t suck vs. the alternatives.

    Windows sucks compared to Mac OS X. PCs suck compared to Macs which can run Mac OS X, Windows and Linux and all the software apps while PCs can’t run Mac OS X, iLife, 100’s of still Mac-only Photoshop plug-ins, etc.

    Those are major differences that you forgot to factor into your simplistic and flawed theory.

  6. Hey Prof.

    Windows has always sucked; it didn’t just start sucking when OS X came out…In fact XP SP2 does suck a little less.

    Windows sucked compared to OS 6 when they captured 95% of the market.

    PC’s sucked compared to Apple machines when they captured 95% of the market.

    There have always been 100’s of Mac only plug-ins for Photoshop, even when Adobe themselves suggested all of its customers switch to PC.

    PC’s can run all the OSes you mention, except OS X. There in lies the problem of broader Mac adoption BTW.

    So yes, I did factor these differences. It just turns out that every thing you mentioned made absolutely no difference in stopping Windows from taking 95% of the market, and likely will make no difference in them keeping the 95% of the market.

    I’m an iPod, Mac using kind of person. I wouldn’t switch to Windows for anything (except dual boot for games), but those are the facts…period.

    So go back to school and learn some history.

  7. Zune will never build an ecosystem. Microsoft is going to be in the mother of all battles with Creative.

    First, Creative will sue Microsoft (after the Zune ships for maximum impact) because the name “Zune” sounds too much like “Zen”.

    Second, thanks to its agreement with Apple Creative will make the Zen ship with a dock compatible with any iPod accessory. Zune will never have that capability and will thus be forced deeper into also-ran status. The Zens OTOH will find a nice niche on the edges of the iPod ecosystem.

  8. Jerry T and Prof,

    It just goes to show that there is room for both Ford/GM (MS) and BMW (Apple).

    No one thinks BMW is going to take over the auto world, but nevertheless it is highly successful and hugely aspirational.

    And so is Apple. And a plus point is the delicious iPod, which continues to cluster-bomb pretenders to its throne, and quite right too — it is the better solution.

  9. “No one thinks BMW is going to take over the auto world, but nevertheless it is highly successful and hugely aspirational.”

    The difference is that you don’t need different BMW Roads and different BMW Gas stations dispensing different BMW fuel.

    Now that the Mac can use Windows roads and gas stations (on account of being Ford/GM mechanicals in a BMW body) there’s not the incentive to keep building those Mac only roads and gas stations.

    How does it end? Well it’s not rocket science to see that eventually OS X dies out and Apple puts more focus on the Windows compatible side of it’s business.

  10. iPod is already a Windows related business, not a Mac related one. Most iPods get used with Windows and the Windows version of iTunes.

    The new Macs are Windows PCs as much as they are OS X PCs.

    So what really is Apple’s future? It seems to be as a vendor of sylish hardware either running Microsoft operating systems or connected to a PC running a Microsoft operating system.

  11. DJ,

    I agree 100%.

    My first post was a sarcastic jab at all of the people that claim market share is meaningless when discussing M$’s 95% ownership.

    But it means everything and is insurmountable when discussing Apples 75% ownership of the music market share.

    You’ll see all the stupid responses like Professors. People like him/her seem to think that Windows just started to suck and will surely go out of business now. I guess they never saw Win 3.1, or 95 or 98 or ME…Talk about sucking, those dogs sucked.

    Never mind the millions or billions that every government and gov. agency and large corporations have invested in the architecture and some of its proprietary software. Never mind that 95% of all computer users on the planet have invested hundreds in software and hardware. iTunes is cool, so M$ must be going out of business.

  12. Jerry T…

    “Windows has always sucked; it didn’t just start sucking when OSX came out…”

    True… and your assesment of Windows competition before the release of OSX is completely accurate. But… OSX is now here and will be in it’s 4th or maybe 5th generation when Vista is released. Think about that for a minute. The bugs were worked out of OSX in rev 10.1 – 10.3. Does anyone believe that Vista will be anything but inherantly unstable until vista sp1 comes out a year or two later?

    Also, all of those windows using people are going to have to BUY NEW HARDWARE to run it. And not just cheap bottom of the market machines, but good quality, with a gig of ram. They are going to experience the same sticker shock Mac users have endured for years.

    Total cost of ownership is finally going to be a reality in the Windows world for the very first time.

    To put it simply… no one will be able to afford to purchase a new computer every other year just because their computer gets infected with malware and viruses.

    You argument that the ipod/itunes model is the equivelant in market dominance to windows is accurate. But there is a huge difference in the coming market demands for the two. The iPod/iTunes model has quality in from the start. It’s going to be difficult to unseat. Windows has a huge market share as you rightly point out. But it is flawed and the market will flow to lowest cost that also offers quality.

    Apple is uniquely posiioned to provide for this.

    It’s gonna be a fun couple of years.

    MDN word is “Future”… you’re freaking me out with this stuff MDN.

  13. Ahhh the angry defense. Always good for deflecting “real” issues.

    Windows has always sucked; it didn’t just start sucking when OS X came out…In fact XP SP2 does suck a little less.

    Windows sucked compared to OS 6 when they captured 95% of the market.

    PC’s sucked compared to Apple machines when they captured 95% of the market.

    In ’95 the number of computers used in households was very low. DOS was the standard in the enterprise, not because of MSFT, but because of IBM. Corporate America wasn’t going to change millions of dollars of hardware to get the Mac GUI, then have to rewrite all of their DOS apps. And the consumer wasn’t smart enough to know the difference between MacOS and a badly done knock off called Windows. What they responded to was enormous advertising and price tags that were less than the Mac.

    During the past few years a much more knowledgeable consumer has begun re-examining their platform of choice and in increasing numbers are choosing Mac.

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