I’m vaguely irritated by both Microsoft and Apple cultists (in the form of the excellent Unofficial Apple Weblog) regarding Microsoft’s move into the digital music space. As usual, I’m irritated by the Apple Koolaid drinkers because they can’t imagine Apple’s digital music offering (iPod plus iTunes et al) being toppled by anything. I’m sure that’s the way Lycos (et al) felt about search engines back in the mid-nineties. I hate to Santayana Apple, but woe be the one who forgets to study history. Apple and its minions are happily citing daunting market share statistics. Pride cometh before the fall and all that.
I’m irked by Microsoft’s PR around their new MSN Music service.
“ITunes has done a great job of helping to elevate the [digital music] market,” said Christine Andrews, lead product manager of MSN. “We’re different because Apple is a closed system. If you want Apple, you have to use the iPod. A lot of people want choice and we offer that.”
Apple’s a closed system? That’s such bollocks, and an alarmingly narrow perspective on the digital music economy. I own an iPod, and have never bought a song from the iTunes store (and never will, unless they make it DRM-free). Yet, I have purchased music online from other (DRM-free) vendors, ripped my CDs and downloaded some music from P2P networks. It’s all on my iPod, and I enjoy it outside of the ‘closed system’ that Microsoft is spinning.
Interestingly, Apple and Microsoft approach this issue from different ends. My father used to own a drugstore, and he once told me that Gilette would more or less give the razor handles away–they make all their money on the razors. That’s the Microsoft approach. Apple, as I understand it, leads the digital music sales game with the iTunes store so that they can sell more iPods.
And like Microsoft should talk–their MSN Music is hardly a shining paragon of openness. Go to MSN Music site and see if you can find clear instructions on what you can and cannot do with your music. I looked around, and while I found a site that sought to sell me compatible devices, I never figured out whether I could copy my music, move it between computers, or who owns it if I die. Unsurprisingly, the site doesn’t render quite right in Mozilla. Their bullets look like this: Å¸. That’s error #106 (of 758) from the W3C HTML validator, which can be fixed with help from this page.
Here’s an interesting perspective on this issue from somebody who works at Microsoft.