This is an interesting dilemma: Apple's iTunes leads the legitimate music download biz, and with nominal margins and profits in the per-song approach, Apple head Steve Jobs has made it clear that he's in it to drive iPod and computer sales. So if he's selling music to drive iPod sales, then why would he want to make the music compatible with any other players?
- The music industry is pushing bitter technology rivals — most notably Microsoft and Apple — to shake hands in the interest of promoting digital downloads, Billboard has learned.
Hardware makers and digital format developers, including many traditional adversaries, are engaged in private talks aimed at meeting the music industry's goal of compatibility among competing digital music devices by 2005.
"There's a substantial discussion going on among these companies about interoperability," says Paul Vidich, executive VP of strategic planning and business development for Warner Music Group.
Consumers are embracing commercial digital music in increasing numbers, and the trend is likely to be aided by a Pepsi-Apple promotion launching Feb. 1 during Super Bowl XXXVIII. But incompatibility among certain digital music services and portable players remains an obstacle.
"Consumers are going to demand that there be interoperability in devices and software players," Vidich says.
Executives with knowledge of the talks say much of the focus is on transcoding — the process of converting a file from one format to another.
....Music from Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store — the leading seller of digital tracks — cannot be transferred directly to any portable device other than the iPod. Those who compete with iPod by and large support Microsoft's Windows Media Audio (WMA) format.
At the same time, tracks from every other legitimate service — a field that includes Napster, MusicMatch, RealNetworks, Wal-Mart and Sony — are incompatible with the iPod.