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iTunes Music Store too late?

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Is the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) for Windows too late? I think it is. I think they needed to come out with it either right before launched, or right after. Now Napster 2.0 is coming, there is also MusicMatch, and Rhapsody ( that was recently bought by RealNetworks.

I think this is another case where Apple is too little, too late (Apple always seems to be the first to bring new innovative ideas to the table, only to loose out to the cloners.). When came out it really made iTMS store look great, wether it liked it or not, it showed that Apple had the right idea, and BuyMusic did not. That is when Apple needed to launch. But iTMS for Windows must not have been ready at that point.

There is also this thing about AAC files. The AAC file format is/will be more easy accepted by the Mac crowd then by Windows users.

This is mainly due to the fact that Mac users will go along with virtually anything Apple throws at them, and accept it. If you have a Mac and you want an MP3 player, why would you buy anything else but an iPod?

Windows users have had MP3 players a lot longer (it took a while to get Mac support, part of the reason for the launch of the iPod in 2001) then Mac users have. Most MP3 players support MP3 and WMA file formats. Some even now support alternative formats such as ogg. Even though a Windows user can use an iPod, there are many other products out there that are cheaper, and support WMA, which happens to be the file format of choice for many online music sites such as BuyMusic, etc.

Will Apple support WMA on the iPod? I think it would be in the best interest of Apple. Unlike Mac users, Windows users are not only going to use the iTMS to get digital music, and I do not mean using p2p file sharing, I mean the other Windows music services available. After all, the iTMS has some holes in it, specific artists are not listed, so people are going to go elsewhere.

If I only owned a PC, why would I get an iPod if it only supported MP3 and AAC, and did noy support WMA, the reining champion of Windows music file formats? I would get it because it is so cool, but that is beside the point here :-P.

There is another argument here. The iTMS for Windows might not have WMA, but Windows users might see it as being the least restrictive of the available music sites. Every song you download has the same restrictions, (BuyMusic anyone?) Napster 2.0 (and BuyMusic,com for that matter) has buy only music, you cannot burn it. Another thing I noticed about Napster 2.0: It is an all inclusive Music Store/ Jukebox, but you cannot rip your own CDs – what a shame.

I really do not think that Apple will support WMA on the iPod and use it for the Windows iTMS, but they may sell more iPods to the Windows crowd. That is the plan, isn’t it? Of course there are Windows users that are able to look past the no WMA problem, as seen in the sales figures of the iPod (because we all know there are not THAT many Mac users).

It doesn’t seem reasonable to sell WMA file to Windows users and AAC files to Mac user on the iTMS, but Apple should think about supporting WMA on the iPod because the other Windows only music stores use WMA. Windows users would not be tied down to the iTMS.

But this would not push people to the iTMS. I doubt that WMA support for the iPod will happen, but it sure would be nice. Sorta like I doubt a 1st party 2 button mouse is going to happen, but it would be nice if it did.

While doing reasurch for this post I found a great discussion about this very issue over at Chaosmint (that would be an anagram for Macintosh). I have also added Chaosmint on my blogroll, check the site out, its got some good reads.

I do not see the iTMS for Windows launch being as big as a lot of people think it will be. We will see, maybe it will be big.

Originally posted on Breaking Windows.

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About Ken Edwards

  • Phillip Winn

    I seem to remember hearing many similar comments when Apple launched the iPod. You know, the iPod that came to market after it was already played out, but happened to somehow revitalize it completely? The iPod that plays MP3 files just fine, thank you very much.

    I can’t imagine how anyone could think that the online music store is played out, or that it is too late for entering the market. iTMS/Win is competing against what, exactly? Vaporware and crap services that can’t sell in a month what iTMS sells in a day to a very small fraction of the target market?

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. I guess we’ll see, but I don’t think Apple is likely to include WMA support in the iPod (though I could easily be wrong on that one), and I also don’t think it will matter at all.

    People are really using WMA? I’ve got more than 120GB of MP3s, and though I ripped that last several hundred CDs on Windows, I’ve never once even thought about using WMA. Do you? Really?

  • Ken Edwards

    Me? No, I don’t like WMA one bit! But I do know people who have entire libraries of WMA files. And to be more spacific, these online music stores are not selling MP3’s, they are selling WMA files (well, AAC for the iTMS). Of course this is all because of the DRM needed to be a legal online music store.

    To be perfectly honest whis issue is not going to effect me one bit. I have a PowerBook and an iPod. I just think it would be nice to see both the iPod as well as iTunes in general, to support WMA in the Windows version.

    I cannot wait untill iTunes comes out for Windows. Then I can stop using WinAmp on my PC and use iTunes as my jukebox software, as I do on my Mac.

  • Mac Diva

    Ken, it seems to me the ability to convert is what needed. That can be done if one burns ACC files to discs first.

    I also think iTMS has an advantage in not being a subscription service. I think Windows users will appreciate not paying up unless they actually download music.

    Nor do I notice Windows iPod buyers being wary of Apple. I was an early member of iPod Lounge, which began as very Mac oriented. The last time I was over there, there seemed to be more Windows than Mac users present. I have also noticed Windows iPod users at Mac Addict and MacWorld forums. The kind of person who is hostile to Apple probably would not buy an iPod anyway.

  • Eric Olsen

    Great job, important perspective. Thanks Ken!

  • Steve Rhodes

    Wired News also has an article on the is Apple too late to Windows question.

    I don’t think it is too late. I haven’t seen evidence any of the other services done as well as the iTunes store even with access to the Windows market.

    And the Wired News article hints this may be more about selling iPods than making money from selling music for a song:

    Apple Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson has said that the Windows launch of iTunes would be a Trojan Horse for the company that many say popularized the personal computer, spurring more sales of the iPod players, which have also been popular with Windows users.

    Dan Niles, an analyst at Lehman Brothers, estimated that Apple sold 303,000 iPod digital music players in the June quarter at an average price of $370, up from 78,000 in the March quarter, fueled by the launch of the company’s online music store.

  • Phillip Winn

    So many sources have popped up with this story all at once that I could easily believe it is the result of a marketing push by one of the backers of an inferior offering, like BuyMusic, MusicMatch or Napster 2.0. I mean, all this crap the week of the announcement? It’s like the CA recall election all over again! I think some people are crapping their pants and trying to plant story ideas everywhere as casually as they can.

  • Mac Diva

    Maybe it comes from hanging out at ZDNet too much, but sometimes I get the feeling that some people just want Apple to fail. The company bothers them for some reason — perhaps having more market clout than its size ‘justifies.’

  • Phillip Winn

    MD, you’re right. To a certain extent I think this is true of any successful entity. People want Microsoft to fail, often for reasons unrelated to any bad thing MS has done. People want American to file. People want Apple to fail. People want Bill Gates to die, and what on earth has he ever done to deserve that?

    It’s more than just punishing success, though. A non-Mac user wants Apple to fail, because the longer Apple succeeds, the more likely it is that the non-Mac user will have to face the fact someday that he or she made the “wrong” choice of computers. At least, I think that’s the subconscious reasoning. I use Mac, Windows and Unix, so I don’t think it’s an either/or, but a lot of people do.

    It’s why I get irked at Coke commercials as a Pepsi drinker. 😉

  • Eric Olsen

    MD and Phillip, both correct and insightful points. It’s also Schadenfreude.

    But, of course, Phillip has selected the wrong soft drink company is doomed to eternity sipping Diet Cokes.

  • Phillip Winn

    Eric – DIE, you scoundrel! You will spend eternity licking the floor underneath the urinal in the “used Pepsi department” of a roadside gas station 89 miles from nowhere in Kentucky for your insolence, and you will thank me for the privilege!


  • Eric Olsen

    Pepsi: preferred by hummingbirds.

  • Phillip Winn

    Coca-cola: preferred by bitter people with bitter souls. Do you drink bitter beer, too? Try Newport Brown Ale.

  • Ken Edwards

    What? Coke rots your teeth out! Pepsi all the way!

  • Eric Olsen

    it’s the sugar that rots teeth – Diet Coke all the way.

  • Tom Johnson

    I got your back, Phil: read my missive against Coke: Cokeland

  • Ken Edwards

    its more the taste then the amount of sugar in Coke, and Diet Coke is soo nasty. If you want a Diet the only thing that is good is Diet Dr. Pepper. But then I have always been a Dr. Pepper fan.

    But between Coke and Pepsi its Pepsi for sure. Our college (BGSU) even went with Pepsi over Coke, they obviosly knew what they were talking about :p

    To get back on subject (OMG!) I don’t think that Apple is bringing the iTMS to Windows to sell the music. They don’t have a very realistic profit margin for selling music online, no one does. The profit margin comes from the iPod. Apple makes a killing on selling those things! The profit on the iPod is the cash cow that Apple has right now. Of course that is the main reason for iTMS to Windows, to sell more iPods.

    Myself, I had a 5 GB iPod, and just got a 30 GB one when it came out, because of the “relaunch” of the iPod. that is the idea. Of course the sheer number of PC users buying music casually on the Windows iTMS is sure to be a very large number, I do not think the number of sales on the iTMS will be any where near the numbers, per capita, of the Mac iTMS.

  • Eric Olsen

    Diet Coke is the nectar of the gods: the final evolution of flavored, carbonated, carmel-colored, caffeinated, non-alcoholic human refreshment. To suggest otherwise is positively Rushdian in its effrontery.

  • Phillip Winn

    First, the important thing: There is no better drinking experience in the world than to go to a QuikTrip (QT) gas station and mix a dollop of Vanilla with the sweet nectar of the gods – Pepsi. I’ve got more than a dozen 32 oz cups in my desk drawer, my car, and my kitchen cabinet to attest to the clear superiority of this concoction. Pepsi Vanilla? A pale imitation of The Real Thing, my own hand-made vanilla Pepsi.

    And coke drinkers can just drink the gas from the pumps. 😛

    Okay, back to Apple. My understand is that they do actually might turn a profit off the store, though not a large one, obviously. But you’re right, their goal is to drive people to iPods and to Macs. I’m reasonably sure they’ll sell a lot more iPods when people don’t have to use MusicMatch, but I’m skeptical on the push to Macs.

    Apple’s Windows software has generally been, well, not that great. I’m concerned that people will think that the iTunes/Windows experience is indicative of what they might expect from a Mac, when there is no comparison. I say that without even having used iTunes/Win, because there can be no comparison. Not just like Apples and oranges, it’s like day and night.

  • Phillip Winn

    Eric – believe it or not, I hadn’t seen your comment when I posted mine – I took a long time to type it up. So we both used the phrase “nectar of the gods” spontaneously.

    Obviously you server false gods. You’re probably a stinking Windows user, too.


  • Eric Olsen

    The vile bedevilments of a worm-tongue. Fie!

  • Michael Croft

    Not to put details into a religious discussion (I am also a Diet Dr. Pepper fan), but let me try.

    I’m pretty sure Windows (specifically WinAMP) supported AAC first, via plugins. I think newer versions incorporated it into the base product.

    This thread on ipodlounge discusses aac and m4a files on Windows.

    Also, most of the rumor sites are suggesting that pre-release builds of iTunes 5 already support WMA. As long as they’ll convert it to AAC, I’ll be happy. Biggest pain I’ve ever had was converting some files out of Windows Media format into MP3 or AAC…

    I’d be interested in knowing what counts as “success” or “failure” for iTMSW. If it “only” sells twice as many songs per unit time as iTMSM, then are they “failing”? If they get to reuse the infrastructure they’ve built on the Mac side, then their costs are much lower than their competitors.

    And if it’s a loss leader to sell more iPods, then it can lose money and still be worthwhile for Apple.

    I’m not willing to say it’s a success or failure until it actually comes out, though. Time will tell.

  • TDavid

    Phillip regarding #1 comment:

    People are really using WMA? I’ve got more than 120GB of MP3s, and though I ripped that last several hundred CDs on Windows, I’ve never once even thought about using WMA. Do you? Really?

    Those that have XBox, use WMA all the time 😉 You can burn CDs and play them while playing games instead of listening to the often lousy game music. No MP3 XBox option unless one goes for that Linux hack.

  • Steve Rhodes

    I just got email that I’ll be able to cover the Apple event thanks to Philip’s tipoff, so I’ll post a report tomorrow.

  • Phillip Winn

    Woohoo! Steve’s going to go! I’m jealous.

    TDavid, those that have WMA files on their XBoxen aren’t going to be running the iTMS for Windows. 😉

    Eric, I just can’t talk about soda any more. I’m fasting as part of a church thing, and thinking about a vanilla Pepsi is painful. We’ll talk Friday. 😉

  • Michael Croft

    Bwa-ha-ha-ha! It looks like iTMS is not neutral on the soda question.

    “Sources said the unveiling of the pact with PepsiCo Inc. was timed to coincide with today’s release of a Windows-compatible version of Apple’s iTunes Music Store…consumers who purchase Pepsi beverages would find codes in the packaging that they could redeem online for free downloads from iTunes.”

  • Phillip Winn
  • Seb


    two years on – and oh, how wrong you are!!