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MacBytes
Nov 30, 2003, 02:41 PM
Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: The Guts of a New Machine - An extensive article on the iPod, with quotes from Jobs and Ive. (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/30/magazine/30IPOD.html?pagewanted=1&th)

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)

Approved by arn

Blaaze
Nov 30, 2003, 03:52 PM
cool article

bensisko
Nov 30, 2003, 05:33 PM
I really don't think the iPod will slip to 3-5% of the market. None of the competators are that good. Not that I put much stock in anything to do with Real Networks anymore...

Freg3000
Nov 30, 2003, 05:33 PM
3-5%. Eek. Hope not. Very nice and indepth article.

MrMacMan
Nov 30, 2003, 05:37 PM
RealNetworks... why does that sound Familiar... oo, I know they compete with Quicktime!

Duhh, thats why they think they have no chance.

iPod will only have a chance if they lower prices, get a low end model (think 2-5 GB range) and keep up on new technology.

Lets hope they can.

gekko513
Nov 30, 2003, 05:47 PM
I liked the article, and I think the ones who always ask for more features included in the iPod should read it and realise that the main reason for iPods success is the simple design.

4th gen iPod:
Bluetooth enabled ... not to sync music but for a bluetooth remote. The remote on the 3rd gen iPod is not very convenient. Of course this will also enable Keynote speakers to use the iPod (and/or the iPod remote) as a remote for a computer showing a Keynote-presentation.

(This is not a rumor ... just me dreaming )
:)

gwuMACaddict
Nov 30, 2003, 05:54 PM
awesome article, but i'm still confused about all the talk about the low end mp3 player. most people i know have music libraries in excess of 10 gigs... and people who really only want a few megabytes for jogging or exercising can buy one of those rio jogging something-or-others. that said, i WOULD like to see lower prices to compete with the new players from other companies.

jwhitnah
Nov 30, 2003, 05:56 PM
The 2 vulnerablities of the iPod are format and price. Lowering price would be good, but the increased sales, I think would be temporary. Selling (through iTMS) and allowing WMV format (er whatever it is) to work on iT4/iPod, WITH a low end/price iPod would shut down the competition. I'm not sure what Apple has to lose by allowing other formats except iTMS sales (to nutster and dull) which make no money anyway. Whatever sells iPods---in this case it is accessibility. This is part of the PC users turnoff with the Mac to begin with: "yeah but you can't do/get that on a Mac/iPod." I think that when people see the iPod and iTMS working with PCs, they unconciously think the Mac is also compatable with PC's. We already know this is true. The iTMS may be a Trojan horse for selling iPods, but the iPods boost Apples image, and probably sell Macs.

johnnyjibbs
Nov 30, 2003, 06:01 PM
Great article. I think Apple does have to be slightly careful about where they go regarding WMA. Personally I hate Windows Media Player and Microsoft's proprietry formats and am glad Apple has so far avoided it. In fact, it isn't Apple's style to support it.

But in supporting WMA Apple would boost iPod sales. Although, having said that, let's remember that iPods still get sold here in Britain and elsewhere around the world and there is currently no music stores here. So people either use AAC (ripped from their iTunes library) or MP3.

What I hate is how most companies (e.g. Dell, Napster) just go with WMA for everything. Even most websites only seem to support Win Media Player and RealOne Player for media content. Why doesn't anyone else embrace AAC?

Why is it always Apple vs the world?

themadchemist
Nov 30, 2003, 06:11 PM
a vibrant article...more than good...it felt like it had a soul, like it was personable, and not another technophile's numbers break down. it was very "Apple," in that sense.

a few lines I liked a lot:

'You can think of innovation as a continuum, and this phase is one end of it. The dreams and experiments that happen outside of -- and in a state of indifference toward -- the marketplace. At the other end of the continuum are the fast followers, those who are very attuned to the marketplace, but are not particularly innovative. They let someone else do the risky business of wild leaps, then swoop in behind with an offering that funnels some aspect of the innovation into a more marketable (cheaper? watered down? easier to obtain?) package -- and dominates. Fairly or not, the shorthand version of this in the technology world would have at one end of the continuum Xerox PARC, the famous R&D lab where all manner of bleeding-edge innovations (including some of the ''look and feel'' of the Mac) were researched but never developed into marketable products. And at the other end you'd have companies like Microsoft and Dell.'


'''Of course they do.'' I felt his annoyance shift elsewhere. ''And it's like . . . somebody who's not cool trying to be cool. It's painful to watch. You know what I mean?'' He looked at me for a while, and I started to think he was trying to tell me something. Then he said, ''It's like . . . watching Michael Dell try to dance.'' The P.R. minder guffawed. ''Painful,'' Jobs summarized.'

and, of course,

'Jobs shook his head. ''But then you meet the girl, and she says, 'Let me see what's on your iPod.' You pull out a tape player, and she walks away.'' This was an unanticipated, and surprisingly persuasive, response. That's thinking long-term, I said. ''No,'' said Steve Jobs. ''That's being an optimist.'''

kennylucius
Nov 30, 2003, 06:14 PM
Why is it always Apple vs. the world? In this case, it's because Apple is leading the world, and some very big companies want to tear Apple down.

If the other online music sellers get really big, relegating iTMS to a very small market share, then Apple will enable WMA on iPod and iTunes to allow users with WMA files to play them on an iPod. I don't see any reason to change iTMS since it's only purpose is to promote iPod sales. (And to show them how it's done).

gekko513
Nov 30, 2003, 06:18 PM
Originally posted by johnnyjibbs
Why doesn't anyone else embrace AAC?
Why is it always Apple vs the world? [/B]
Tono, which is some kind of head organization for the music business in Norway, has recently been involved in starting a norwegian online music store with most norwegian music.

They only sell WMA music, and you even have to use IE to browse the web-site.

I sent an e-mail and said that I liked the initiative, but that my iPod doesn't support WMA and I asked if they could sell in AAC format as well.

I actually got a reply :) , but the spokesperson claimed that AAC did not have a degree of DRM that they, on behalf of the record companies, could accept. He also was of the opinion that the iPod would probably support WMA soon. :mad:

I tried to convince him otherwise, but had no luck.

Sherman
Nov 30, 2003, 06:31 PM
maybe one update they could do through software, would be to support ogg vorbis. I personally don't have any songs in this, in my opinion, quite wonderful format and iTunes doesn't rip into it, but it will play it with the proper quicktime codec installed.

Hey, if they can put Linux on an iPod, I think apple could at least support some of the weird linux guys that really like the iPod and provide .ogg support. Remember, these are the guys that suggest gifts to friends and family and they have quite a lot of buying power.

kennylucius
Nov 30, 2003, 06:33 PM
Yeah, the people at Tonos are correct. AAC doesn't have DRM built-in like WMA does. You can license AAC, but then you have to create your own DRM system like Apple did, or license a DRM system from somewhere else. Fairplay is the only one I know of, and I hear that Apple isn't sharing it just yet.

I think iPod will go WMA soon.

rainman::|:|
Nov 30, 2003, 06:35 PM
Steve Jobs should not have an apostrophe after it in the front-page story. just thought i'd be a bitch and point that out.

excellent story. unusual that the writer spent so much time recounting the interview itself, rather than what was said. must mean that apple is viewed with some curiousity... surely it's a treat for mac fans like us, to get that glimpse into the interview process...

pnw

Gyroscope
Nov 30, 2003, 06:35 PM
This was very professional, well written article. I just wish that there is more articles like this, published on internet. Lately, I am really getting sick of crappy mindless articles published on internet. People who have no talent or knowledge write all sorts of "scheiss" pretending to be tech journalists, and very often it is also matter of blatant propaganda on someone's behalf. Feels like lot of companies are paying money to these quazi journalists to write favourable reviews about their products. Regarding comments given by RealNetworks CEO I do not think that he was absolutley right about everything that he said. Only danger for Apple's iPod could come from Microsoft, trying to push their own windows media file format in similiar way they did with IE during browser wars. Good news is that at least Europeans are sick of this behaviour and wont let them have it this time.


Regards

Alex Wrege
Nov 30, 2003, 06:40 PM
The iPod definitely has been a revolution in the market and is the one piece of technology that competitors try to recreate with their products.
Like many of the users here I also believe that a low priced iPod would probably help to reach a larger base (students or the parents who buy one for their kids). I really hope that Apple will come up with a cheaper version to celebrate the 2 year anniversary.
I guess the future will tell . . . .

rainman::|:|
Nov 30, 2003, 06:41 PM
Originally posted by kennylucius
I think iPod will go WMA soon.

so the loss-leader iTMS will have been created to put music onto competitors players? i think not. besides the fact that encoding 300,000 songs in AAC is a major investment in the format's future with the company, the iPod is definitely the top of the pack in digital jukeboxes, and it doesn't make sense for apple to lose that leverage in promoting the iTMS, which will then lead to higher iPod sales. opening it to WMA only leads their whole system to break down, wasting a great deal of capital...

so, i think the iPod will stay AAC until the next format comes along. then we'll see. but don't look for it in the next few years... once the color screen and other features go into future revisions of iPods, they'll continue to dominate the market just like they're beginning to do now.

pnw

Macmaniac
Nov 30, 2003, 06:43 PM
A very well done article!
I hope Apple can sell as many iPods as Sony sold walkmans.
The guy from Real is really smoking something if he thinks the iPod will end up with a 3-5% market share.
If Apple could only drop the price $50 on each model they would be in the sweetspot!
50% market share would be in our grasp:)

kansaigaijin
Nov 30, 2003, 06:49 PM
lame article

full of faint praise and FUD.

the crap about slow to realize the potential od digital music?

there were third party developers making encoders for the make, and you could install your own burner. besides that is just one way to enjoy mp3s.

go back and read it again a little more critically.

kennylucius
Nov 30, 2003, 06:53 PM
PNW: There are three distinct products in play here. iPod, iTunes, and iTMS. You are correct in calling iTMS a loss leader, and it will probably never go WMA. iPod and iTunes, though, could support WMA without upsetting Apples plans at all. If iPod's market share begins to fall (even if sales are increasing), look for Apple to enable WMA playback.

Mr.Hey
Nov 30, 2003, 07:05 PM
Originally posted by johnnyjibbs
Why is it always Apple vs the world?

That is the fate of the Alfa-Male.

madamimadam
Nov 30, 2003, 07:10 PM
I hate to sound the wanker but the iPod was released in October (as shown on Apple's Website (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60917)) and it has been revised 3 times:

Original 5GB
Revision 1 = Original 5GB + 10GB and 15GB with touch scroll
Revision 2 = 10GB, 15GB and 20GB (I think those are the right numbers)
Revision 3 = 10GB, 20GB, 40GB

MattG
Nov 30, 2003, 07:10 PM
Rob Glaser, C.E.O. of RealNetworks feels that Apple will end up with only 3-5% of the player market in the next 5 yearsRight...kind of reminds me of the time when the CEO of Buy.com said their music service would sell 10 million songs in the first week/month/whatever it was. :rolleyes:

the_mole1314
Nov 30, 2003, 07:14 PM
I think Apple will go WMA with iTunes, but not the iPod. I think we'll also see a WMA to AAC converter, which will also convert the DRM. I think that'll kill the market for Dell and Samsung.

I loved the article, I think it's awsome and very well done, not a 'iPod is good, Dell is comming, here's what Microsoft says for the rest of the 50% of the article!' that has been happening recently.

Freg3000
Nov 30, 2003, 07:25 PM
Originally posted by madamimadam
I hate to sound the wanker but the iPod was released in October (as shown on Apple's Website (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60917)) and it has been revised 3 times:

Original 5GB
Revision 1 = Original 5GB + 10GB and 15GB with touch scroll
Revision 2 = 10GB, 15GB and 20GB (I think those are the right numbers)
Revision 3 = 10GB, 20GB, 40GB

Counting a revision as ANY time the iPod has changed or changed configurations...

Original 5GB
Revision 1 = Original 5GB + 10GB
Revision 2 = 5GB, 10GB, 20GB (10 and 20 have touch wheel)
Revision 3 = 10GB, 15GB, 30GB
Revision 4 = 10GB, 20GB, 40GB

That's how I remember it.

Sedulous
Nov 30, 2003, 07:26 PM
What advantage is there to supporting WMA?

gekko513
Nov 30, 2003, 07:26 PM
Originally posted by the_mole1314
I think Apple will go WMA with iTunes, but not the iPod. I think we'll also see a WMA to AAC converter, which will also convert the DRM.

That would be just great!!

kennylucius
Nov 30, 2003, 07:30 PM
What's the point of that? iTunes produces no income whatsoever, so why would Apple capitulate to Microsoft only for iTunes?

theFly
Nov 30, 2003, 07:38 PM
I don't see any point in supporting WMA.

The iTunes Music Store is not designed to be a free standing money making product. It's designed to sell more iPods.

The iPod works with the iTMS. Why would you need it to work with any other service?

If you own an iPod and want to purchase music, you go to the iTMS. There are no advantages any of the other services have over iTMS.

They may claim more songs, but on many of them, you'd be hard pressed to find them.

Cheaper prices? Sure, on most of the stuff you're not going to buy anyhow.

Dell is not selling to Apple's market. They're selling to the people who don't care about design and usability who only care about money. Guess what, those are the same people who are probably not going to purchase online music.

I would love to see other players support ACC and iTunes support them. Don't think that'll happen very soon, however.

Anyone ever compare a Dell player to the iPod? What's the size and weight difference between them in real life?

theFly

the_mole1314
Nov 30, 2003, 07:46 PM
Think of it this way...

Buy songs off of Napster, hate it and the player, want iPod...

download iTunes, iTunes converts files to AAC with Fariplay, allows for upload to iPod.

It hooks you to iTMS, and you convert to Apple.

It makes you download and use iTunes and the music store to convert WMA to the iPod. If you have to use iTunes to use the iPod, you are more likely to use iTMS and not Napster, Musicmatch, and M$ stores, skip the convert steps, and just download the songs from iTunes Music Store. You sell more iPods, you take away marketshare and show people there's a better way.

rainman::|:|
Nov 30, 2003, 07:55 PM
Originally posted by Sedulous
What advantage is there to supporting WMA?

well, the theory is that the iTMS will take such a small marketshare (once all of the music stores are settled in their respective places) that it will kill the iPod, as only the people that use the iTMS will be able to use an iPod. But, i personally think that having a locked-in marketshare, be it 30% or 80%, is better than having a product like the iPod that others can deliver cheaper, with less design and ease-of-use... consumers tend to buy things cheap, to sacrifice quality. i think that the idea of opening iPods to WMA factors in the upcoming music store rivalry, but does not factor in the new wave of music players meant to compete directly with the iPod...

also, to the person who said the article is too critical. first off, apple *was* slow in selling CD burners installed in their computers. the article never said you couldn't add one, but it took them a long time to move burners down to the consumer line. secondly, until iTunes, apple really had no focus on digital music, preferring to make way for digital video instead... which they got a fantastic jump on. apple proved that developing an amazing digital music suite (iTunes, iTMS, iPod) would take less time to be competitive than the digital video market...

you have to admit to some flaws, or odd strategies, i mean apple's not perfect. sure they mentioned a couple of shortcomings, but the overall effect was doting on how much of a revolution the iPod and iTMS are...

pnw

gekko513
Nov 30, 2003, 07:57 PM
Originally posted by theFly
I don't see any point in supporting WMA.

The iPod works with the iTMS. Why would you need it to work with any other service?

Because the iTMS is US only. I can buy WMA music online now, but not AAC.

boobers
Nov 30, 2003, 08:04 PM
Originally posted by paulwhannel
once the color screen and other features go into future revisions of iPods, they'll continue to dominate the market just like they're beginning to do now.

pnw

pnw: i figure if apple puts a colour screen on it they are more obliged to add pda functionality at the sacrifice of the battery. How much more PDA functionality will it be? Picture viewing, more pda style functions, 802.11/for web surfing to compete....video playback.. this will all require a larger screen...likely a new OS with a file system. A colour screen opens up a whole new can of worms.
Perhaps OLED screens will eat less battery and it will be feasible. Does anyone know the power demands of OLED screens compared to LCD?

jwhitnah
Nov 30, 2003, 08:11 PM
If iTMS (and of course iPod) supports WMA this would not kill the iPod. For over 20 years, Sony has sold its sleak overpriced Walkman while dominating market share. Many people buy based on perceptions. Which player will I be able to use with the greatest number of web music stores? People do not like feeling locked in even if they end up using only 1 store. If iTMS/iPod go WMA, will be more inclined to buy the iPod because it is flexible.

Steven1621
Nov 30, 2003, 08:12 PM
in my circle of friends, if you show up with anything but an ipod, you are laughed at. all the copies of it, the dell, rio, etc, may be cheaper and almost as good, but none have the cool factor that the ipod does. you certainly don't see fan sites made for the dell jukebox. the ipod is hip and has culture to it. no other company will get that but apple. dell may make quality products, but in no way is it hip. apple has that advantage and the better not mess it up.

kennylucius
Nov 30, 2003, 08:16 PM
There will never be a reason for iTMS to go WMA as long as iTMS loses money. If going WMA on iPods will sell more iPods, Apple will do it. iTunes would have to support WMA too, of course.

One reason that WMA iPods would sell better is if there is a significant number of songs available only on WMA services. That won't happen in the near future, but who can tell?

Cadron
Nov 30, 2003, 08:17 PM
i could care less what format the ipod supports, i just want it to last more than 18 months. how hard could it be to design it with replaceable batteries. come on. you pay over 400 bucks for it and before it's two years old your sending it back to apple to replace the batteries. this will kill sells when word gets out about the hassle and expense that you will have to go through to keep it working.

goatsniper
Nov 30, 2003, 08:26 PM
<sarcasm>

...Pepsi issued a press release announcing that they feel Coca-Cola will end up with only 3-5% of the soft drink market in the next 5 years.

</sarcasm>

Right. Get real.

Apple is out-marketing, out-maneuvering, and out-executing every competitor in the online music / music player biz right now. This is blatant FUD from Rob Glaser, plain and simple.

techne
Nov 30, 2003, 08:36 PM
What about some unhappy customers (http://ipodsdirtysecret.com/). My boyfriend and his friends (PCheads) where bashing Apple and the iPod a lot this morning after reading this (http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-5112066.html?tag=nefd_top) on news.com. I rarely stuck myself with my bf on apple/pc eternal discussion but I guess that having to send your player to a technical support service just for a battery change could be a big turn off on christmas sales time. It doesnt seem a big hassle for skilled people, but then again, could it be as easy as most things Apple? What do you think about that.

Fukui
Nov 30, 2003, 08:39 PM
Originally posted by the_mole1314
Think of it this way...

Buy songs off of Napster, hate it and the player, want iPod...

download iTunes, iTunes converts files to AAC with Fariplay, allows for upload to iPod.

It hooks you to iTMS, and you convert to Apple.

It makes you download and use iTunes and the music store to convert WMA to the iPod. If you have to use iTunes to use the iPod, you are more likely to use iTMS and not Napster, Musicmatch, and M$ stores, skip the convert steps, and just download the songs from iTunes Music Store. You sell more iPods, you take away marketshare and show people there's a better way.
It would be nice, but I don't think the DMCA would allow that.

Besides, why would apple pay MS for every iPod sold (WMA licencing) ??

Billicus
Nov 30, 2003, 08:50 PM
Originally posted by madamimadam
I hate to sound the wanker but the iPod was released in October (as shown on Apple's Website (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60917)) and it has been revised 3 times:

Original 5GB
Revision 1 = Original 5GB + 10GB and 15GB with touch scroll
Revision 2 = 10GB, 15GB and 20GB (I think those are the right numbers)
Revision 3 = 10GB, 20GB, 40GB

That was a very good aricle, It was a pleasure to read. However, I think that the revisions are something more along these lines:

Original 5GB iPod
1st Revision: 5GB & 10 GB iPods -> Scroll Wheel
2nd Revision: 5GB, 10 GB, 20 GB iPods -> Touch Wheel on last two
3rd Revision: 10GB, 15GB, 30 GB iPods -> All new design (With buttons below display)
4th Revision: 10GB, 20GB, 40 GB iPods -> Same as 3rd revision but in bigger sizes

[edit] Freg3000 beat me to it. :p

jettredmont
Nov 30, 2003, 08:50 PM
Originally posted by jwhitnah
I'm not sure what Apple has to lose by allowing other formats except iTMS sales (to nutster and dull) which make no money anyway. Whatever sells iPods---in this case it is accessibility. This is part of the PC users turnoff with the Mac to begin with: "yeah but you can't do/get that on a Mac/iPod."

Quick quiz.

If Apple had been on Intel hardware throughout the 1990s, and selling Mac OS for non-Apple hardware, how many of you still would have spent the couple hundred extra bucks to get Apple-branded hardware instead of NEC or (heaven forbid) Packard Bell? Not nearly as many as paid for Apple hardware, I bet. And, had Apple still been around ten years later, you might now be considering going back to Apple hardware, but certainly not in those "soft years".

While this may seem a bit off the topic, it is precisely why I believe Apple is sticking with AAC and not allowing WMA. If the iPod were to support WMA, then the vast majority of users would start encoding in WMA instead of AAC. This does two things:

1) It puts Apple at the mercy of Microsoft, even moreso than it is in the PC arena (via Office). Microsoft controls the WMA format and WMA encoders, which gives MS undue leverage in both players and in music stores.

2) It allows users to have easy portability. While you may have an iPod now and love it to death, when there is a Sanyo clone for $100 less which also plays all your music, there is a much higher chance of you "jumping ship". In other words, Jobs realizes as any halfway-realistic businessman must that the iPod will NOT always be the best player all around, nor will it always be worth the money Apple needs to sell it at in order to produce it. Apple wants you to stick with your old iPod or have no choice but to buy a new one during those "soft" years, just like you had little choice but to buy a new Mac or live with your old one in the mid-1990s.

While this is not really good for the consumer (portability is always a good thing), it is a definite advantage for Apple, one that I wouldn't expect them to give up now, when it is completely unnecessary to do so (so they can get, what, another 10% of the MP3-player dollars, at the cost of future revenue stability? To shame for mentioning it!)

Eventually, Apple may have to let the iPod play with the other devices, and that time may be soon (to stave off the WMA threat). It won't, however, be out of the goodness of Steve Jobs' heart. I suspect that Apple is much more likely to license out FairPlay to other players and stores than to start peddling WMA support, specifically because that approach will counter Microsoft's WMA-licensing threat.

If Apple can keep WMA from becoming a de facto standard, and AAC as the primary post-MP3 music format, Apple takes the control reigns from Microsoft. That is a big win for Apple, allowing Apple to control the music market the same way Microsoft is aiming to do with WMA.

So, IMHO, waiting for WMA support in the iPod is a bit like waiting for Intel support in OS X or conversely Windows support on a G5: it just doesn't make sense from a long-term business strategy perspective, and so won't likely happen unless things go drastically "wrong".

arn
Nov 30, 2003, 09:00 PM
Originally posted by techne
What about some unhappy customers (http://ipodsdirtysecret.com/). My boyfriend and his friends (PCheads) where bashing Apple and the iPod a lot this morning after reading this (http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-5112066.html?tag=nefd_top) on news.com. I rarely stuck myself with my bf on apple/pc eternal discussion but I guess that having to send your player to a technical support service just for a battery change could be a big turn off on christmas sales time. It doesnt seem a big hassle for skilled people, but then again, could it be as easy as most things Apple? What do you think about that.

It's not really true.

http://www.ipodbattery.com ($50, user installed)

Apple also offers a $99 mail-in method.

arn

Dippo
Nov 30, 2003, 09:35 PM
Jobs shook his head. ''But then you meet the girl, and she says, 'Let me see what's on your iPod.' You pull out a tape player, and she walks away.'' This was an unanticipated, and surprisingly persuasive, response. That's thinking long-term, I said. ''No,'' said Steve Jobs. ''That's being an optimist.''


Did anyone get what this meant? I guess this paragraph had some deeper meaning but I don't quite understand what he's getting at...

TomSmithMacEd
Nov 30, 2003, 09:39 PM
This is how I see the future.
iPod keeps getting better. AFter a great holiday season of sales there is a 4th gen that blows everything away. Just for Dell to make a crap copy of again.

M$ will come out with their music store. Everything will turn WMA. iPod's will play WMA, but iTMS still will have AAC's. iPods still turn out to be the number 1 mp3 player. M$ will have the number one music store. And iTMS will still be loved by mac fans.

Stella
Nov 30, 2003, 09:57 PM
iTMS is there to sell iPods.

I cannot see what harm it will do for Apple to make the iPod compatible with other music stores (err, that aren't WMA - are there any!???). Then, other music stores can help iPod sales... indirectly.

commenting on iPod and the future.

Apple are not stupid, they full well know the iPod could be knocked off number 1 spot by cheaper, yet equivilent competitor offerings. They may not say this in public however.

Apple have ideas up their sleeves to keep on inovating the iPod ensuring its number 1 spot, and not just cosmetic changes like larger hard disc, and games etc!

Better battery life would be a good start ;-)

I'm sure Apple with wow the world again in the future, just like they did with the original iPod.

DTphonehome
Nov 30, 2003, 10:16 PM
Originally posted by Dippo
Did anyone get what this meant? I guess this paragraph had some deeper meaning but I don't quite understand what he's getting at...

Read the article. Jobs was answering a question about the possibility of a third-party company releasing white headphones to imitate the iPod's (so the wearer could look like he had one). His point was that the deception wouldn't work past the most superficial level.

--DT

tychay
Nov 30, 2003, 10:18 PM
Originally posted by jwhitnah
I'm not sure what Apple has to lose by allowing other formats except iTMS sales (to nutster and dull) which make no money anyway.

The "other formats" you have to mention is just one: Windows Media.

They have everything to lose. That's like saying, "I don't know what Gateway/Dell/Compaq have to lose by asking for bundling prices for Windows."

Net result, they become beholden to Microsoft. This caused them to miss opportunities in the past--Apple/Intel developed "Star Trek" where Mac OS ran on x86 but it was scuttled when the OEMs they showed it to said they weren't interested because they already have to pay a per-cpu fee to MS. They also became so victimized that the government had to bail them out of the monster they created (about the only thing Microsoft couldn't scuttle in the last anti-trust trial). It also means that your lunch will get eaten later--Microsoft already plans on introducing their old iPod rip off. Think, in the unlikely event that Dell takes off*, how long will it take for Microsoft to eat their lunch? Which brand name do you think is more recognized? Which one would be free at this point to manipulate the price of the codec?

Right now, Microsoft practically gives Windows Media for free to compete with AAC (an open format). Even then they are losing badly according to Neilsen SoundScan. Obviously that will continue until Microsoft establishes a monopoly position in the media player market or Microsoft loses their leveraging monopoly (Windows). From their quarterlies, the latter isn't happening any time soon.

Apple, OTOH, can never establish a monopoly position because AAC is an open format and anybody can put any DRM on it (not just FairPlay). They are always free to license FairPlay. They represent the "safe" bet.

I think the pressure is more on Dell/Samsung/etc. to support AAC and license FairPlay than for Apple to license an inferior and proprietary file format from a monopolist with a history of illegally leveraging their monopoly. Microsoft's gig is up and they will probably pay the price in Europe.

How come nobody commented on the error in the original article that said that iTunes didn't come out until 2001, after iMovie and iPhoto. (In reality, iTunes came out in 1999 and preceded all the the other iApps.)

* For Dell to take off: Let's see every consumer suddenly changes their consumer electronics buying habits (buying online only). Everyone decides the $30 markup is the end-all/be-all, when it didn't mean crap for the Sony Discman and Walkman. Everyone wants a less usable product (the dial wheel and the software synchronization are Apple patents). And Dell's "market research" is actually valid. Think about that last one for a moment: Dell is a new entrant which is basically a first generation iPod spec sheet shipped to a Taiwanese ODM for design. Whose market research should we believe: The one coming from a company with no selling history and says people want a cheaply made 1st-gen iPod with its inferior scroll wheel and longer-lasting high-fail battery in a larger package, or the one from a company that invented the product catagory, booked millions in sales that, and unabashed praise of a new more-compact 3rd generation iPod with a batter that fails less? Umm, yeah.

DTphonehome
Nov 30, 2003, 10:34 PM
Apple had better hurry up with the new features on the iPod. Yes, it's a great MP3 player (and all the little extras are neat), but the fact is that MP3 players are getting better all the time, and it isn't just capacity that is increasing, but functionality as well. The iPod does essentially what it did two years ago, but for a shorter time. The battery life issue is starting to get out into the awareness of the general public, and could hurt sales.

While capacity is increasing steadily, I believe it takes more than added gigs to make a device better. I think 40 GB should do for the overwhelming majority of music fans (there will always be those at the far end of the bell curve, I know). Now that capacity has more or less been tackled, lets see some new features.

I know people have been saying on these boards that the iPod's strong suit is that it does one thing really well. So, I think it would be wise for Apple to put out a second iPod with video or photo capabilities, and maybe call it the iPod AV. Then, drop the price on the audio-only iPod by a couple hundred bucks to truly make it competitive with the other Mp3 players. Oh, and for the love of God, add an FM tuner, Apple. I think that a premium audio device should be able to play the most ubiquitous audio format. And it goes without saying that the battery life has to improve. I know, I know, adding features takes away battery life. But if Dell can double the life of its player relative to the iPod, and only be slightly bigger, Apple can increase the iPod's life a bit without tacking on too much bulk.

Just my thought. I love my iPod and haven't had too much trouble with the battery, but mine's only 6 months old. Here's hoping.

--DT

tychay
Nov 30, 2003, 10:37 PM
Originally posted by Cadron
i could care less what format the ipod supports, i just want it to last more than 18 months.

Quit astroturfing (http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/A/astroturfing.html). The battery on the old iPods typically lasts a lot longer than 18 months and is good for 300 charge/discharge cycles. The current 3rd gen iPods are rated for much more even though they don't hold as much charge.

The battery for the iPod is replaceable for $50 from many third party vendors (as any web search will show (http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=ipod+battery&btnG=Froogle+Search)). And can be replaced under AppleCare ($59/2 years (http://www.apple.com/support/products/applecareipod.html)) or direct from Apple $99 (http://www.info.apple.com/support/applecare_products/service/ipod_service.html).

Also, this supposed iPod killer, the Dell knockoff specifically says that the batteries are not replaceable (http://forums.us.dell.com/supportforums/board/message?board.id=dce_djmusic&message.id=2).

Don't believe every QuickTime video you see. It is highly possible that they have a "dirty little secret" agenda (http://das.doit.wisc.edu/neistatsdirtysecret.txt).

Welcome to the laws of physics. Even Apple cannot violate them.

brhmac
Nov 30, 2003, 10:54 PM
Interesting that people don't realize how well-priced the iPod actually is.

Consider the model lineup...

$300, 10 gigs - 2500 songs
$400, 20 gigs - 5000 songs
$500, 40 gigs - 10000 songs

What exactly is the "competition"? Spend $200 on a player made by another company and you get, if you're lucky, 512 mb. And what is the level of synchronization with the player and a legal music download service?

I'm not saying the iPod is inexpensive, but it is by far the best value on the market today. I would expect that trend to continue.

My sense is Apple finally has a product that another company won't be able to eclipse with a "me too" offering.

dguisinger
Nov 30, 2003, 10:55 PM
Everyone keeps talking about all the licensing fees owed to MS. If i remember correctly, MS was gaining market share with WMA because they gave the file format specs / patent licenses away for free, unlike MP3/AAC.

Kenny Pollock
Nov 30, 2003, 11:01 PM
I went to Best Buy and saw an mp3 player ON SALE for $75, 256mb..

Think about that.
$75 x 4 = $300
256 x 4 = 1000mb = 1GB

Thats $300 for 1GB, I bought my 15GB for $350 off Amazon, and it came with a 1 year warranty, dock, headphones, case, everything.

iPod will own 100% of the marketshare in a few years.

Fukui
Nov 30, 2003, 11:04 PM
Originally posted by dguisinger
Everyone keeps talking about all the licensing fees owed to MS. If i remember correctly, MS was gaining market share with WMA because they gave the file format specs / patent licenses away for free, unlike MP3/AAC.
No IIRC, if that were true, why aren't there any WMA 9 encoders other than the ones MS makes, or rely on windows?

They were gaining market share because the encoders are free, and so are the decoders (all closed source), just theres really no way to get them out of wma 9 once thier encoded.

Besides, if that were true, I wouldn't be against it in any way...but MS wouldn't do this because then they loose all to gain from wma 9, that being reinforcing reliance on MS technologies.

ITR 81
Nov 30, 2003, 11:07 PM
Well I had talking to with some PC friends about music formats.

Most don't know much about AAC.
Once I told them AAC is MP4, Std from Dolby, and offers CD quality for about 30% of the space of traditional MP3.

They said wow. They all bought iPods recently.

Also another selling point is

Which would you rather have:

WMA = MS
AAC = Dolby. Almost everyone goes with AAC when they find this out.

Also alot new MP3 players are supporting AAC. I believe all iRivers are now. But the only thing they don't support is protected AAC format because that would have to come from Apple. Also in the same very few players play protected WMA's as well.

DTphonehome
Nov 30, 2003, 11:11 PM
Don't believe every QuickTime video you see. It is highly possible that they have a "dirty little secret" agenda (http://das.doit.wisc.edu/neistatsdirtysecret.txt).


Wow...that link is pretty amazing. Some men, you just can't reach.

--DT

tychay
Nov 30, 2003, 11:13 PM
Originally posted by dguisinger
Everyone keeps talking about all the licensing fees owed to MS. If i remember correctly, MS was gaining market share with WMA because they gave the file format specs / patent licenses away for free, unlike MP3/AAC.

Please do a little research (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/create/licensing.aspx) before you post.

Windows Media licensing is cheaper than MPEG-4 (AAC) but it is not free. The repricing (as well as the removal of the NDA which you conveniently confuse with "giving the file format specs/patents away") was done in response to the uptake and launching of MPEG-4 licensing, mostly due to Apple's stonewalling to demand more reasonable terms.

In fact, in 2000, Microsoft actually applied for patents on ASF/WMA/WMV in order to stop people from reverse engineering and providing free players.

Honestly, how long do you think it will remain cheaper given Microsoft's history in the PC, PDA, cell phone, embedded and enterprise markets? (Answer: it will remain cheaper as long as a viable competitor exists because they can always afford to lose money by extracting illegal monopoly rents through their other businesses.)

In fact, Microsoft recently (with Windows Media 9) had to backpedal bundling the player exclusively with Windows XP due to lost market share to Real and QuickTime on their own operating systems. They instead opted for an adopt-and-destroy by bundling certain features only on XP (aka Corona) until XP sees better adoption.

There is a world of difference between an open commercial format (MP3, DVD, CD, MPEG-4/AAC,...) held by many companies and a proprietary one held by a single company (Windows API, Word DOC, Excel XLS, ActiveX, Windows Media Player...). Heck, Microsoft's track record with their own open/free file formats aren't good: RTF and AVI were manipulated to the point of unusability, current open XML-based Word file formats have a restrictive licensing (defended with DMCA) and "binary only" proprietary hooks.

The rest of the tech world has to compete by being more efficient and making superior products or innovating because the playing field is egregiously stacked against them. Microsoft is under no such compunction.

zim
Nov 30, 2003, 11:24 PM
I don't get any of you WMA supporters, why should apple open up to WMA, MA? Why not pressure others to support AAC? WMA will not make the iPod a better player, it will not improve apple's stand in the market. Supporting open standards is the way to go, supporting WMA will knock the iPod down a notch... I can see the news now, apple caves, allowing ms to enter in bringing their proprietary WMA format.

For years apple has made the mac as compatible as it could be and for years MS has tried to lock us out, it is a vicious game of cat and mouse and I say forget WMA and support standards.

And what if? What if this did happen? Would we then be in a position where we would have to rely on MS to update the WMA format so that future versions of WMA will be supported on the iPod? At least with MP3 or AAC, the format will always work regardless if a new version of iTMS comes out or not, the compressed file from iTunes 5 will work in 4 and 4 in 5. And would this mean that apple would need to pay royalties, raising the price of the iPod? I think that it is safe to say that we will not see WMA, if so we would have seen it in Quick Time years ago.

As for Real Player, I think that they should be more afraid of MS and their format dominating then worrying about the iPod and its market share.

Just my thoughts.... I think that this whole discussion will fall under the 2 button mouse category. :D

~Shard~
Nov 30, 2003, 11:32 PM
I have a hunch we'll be seeing more updates for the iPods in early spring, around April or so. I have no idea what these 4G iPods will have for updates, but I'm sure it will be some thing to keep Apple competitive in this fast-paced market. And when they do release the 4G iPod, I'll be buying it right away! :)

hulugu
Dec 1, 2003, 01:35 AM
Originally posted by Cadron
i could care less what format the ipod supports, i just want it to last more than 18 months. how hard could it be to design it with replaceable batteries. come on. you pay over 400 bucks for it and before it's two years old your sending it back to apple to replace the batteries. this will kill sells when word gets out about the hassle and expense that you will have to go through to keep it working.

It would have been easy to build it with replacable batteries, but that would have removed the cleanliness and simplicity of the design. The battery lasts for 18+ months and it can be replaced for 50.00 if you do it and for 100.00 if you send it in. I can't imagine this being a bad thing, I would much rather have my iPod, its cleanlines, its simplicity, and the ability to buy a battery if it dies than a huge seam and latch to hold the battery to the back. Think of it this way, how much is a cell phone battery?

Furthermore, WMA is a crappy codec, the other music stores, with few exceptions, suck; iTunes, for all its flaws, is still a much better music player; the iPod for all its flaws, is the best HD Mp3 player with the largest market share per volume per sales. So why again do we want WMA?
I mean especially for mac fans, why would you go to Napster, which requires the unsecure IE and Windows, to download a lossy codec owned by MS to move it to your cheap-knockoff Dell DJ?
Furthermore, the iPod still works with Mp3 the MOST widely used and available codec around. People who already own music can simply rip music files, and then dump them to an iPod, why bother with WMA at all?
I say to Apple and Jobs, keep WMA away for as long as possible; accept LAME, Ogg Vorbis, etc. and allow Linux user support, there's where the real business lies in the future, Windows is a desert waiting to dry up; hope to change the burgeoning Digital Music business from its use of WMA, suddenly the ad hoc standard, to AAC w/ Fair Play; keep the iPod ahead of the game, but keep it simple; the minute sales for the iPod drop below 20% accept WMA only to protect and extend the Apple brand.

jettredmont
Dec 1, 2003, 01:46 AM
Originally posted by kennylucius
What's the point of that? iTunes produces no income whatsoever, so why would Apple capitulate to Microsoft only for iTunes?

Speaking of the iTunes player, not iTMS:

iTunes might support WMA at some point to allow people with WMA DRM'd tracks to use iTunes as their primary jukebox, and potentially offer a cross-coding functionality to FairPlay AAC, although I doubt that is possible (plus the quality would be noticably worse).

iTunes is the only place I see Apple possibly supporting WMA, as it places iTunes as the only "universal" music player out there (unless and until Apple licenses FairPlay to othe jukeboxes, which is even more of a gamble on Apple's part).

Today, if you have AAC/FairPlay songs and were suckered into buying a few WMA songs off Napster or MusicMatch, you can't burn songs from both sets onto the same CD. That really sucks. Which, of course, means there is a marketable position to be had, and as MS is licensing WMA's DRM crap and Apple isn't licensing FairPlay, Apple is the only party with the ability to step into that position.

jettredmont
Dec 1, 2003, 01:57 AM
Originally posted by techne
What about some unhappy customers (http://ipodsdirtysecret.com/). My boyfriend and his friends (PCheads) where bashing Apple and the iPod a lot this morning after reading this (http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-5112066.html?tag=nefd_top) on news.com. I rarely stuck myself with my bf on apple/pc eternal discussion but I guess that having to send your player to a technical support service just for a battery change could be a big turn off on christmas sales time. It doesnt seem a big hassle for skilled people, but then again, could it be as easy as most things Apple? What do you think about that.

1) The costs quoted in the article are severely outdated, as noted in a footnote. The battery replacement is $99 from Apple with guarantees of workmanship, etc, not $250+.

2) As the article also notes in passing, this battery problem is by far not unique to Apple nor to the iPod; any device with a "built-in" battery will have an expensive battery replacement policy. The world doesn't all run on AA's.

jettredmont
Dec 1, 2003, 02:07 AM
Originally posted by tychay

Apple, OTOH, can never establish a monopoly position because AAC is an open format and anybody can put any DRM on it (not just FairPlay). They are always free to license FairPlay. They represent the "safe" bet.


Actually, the "openness" of AAC is not an issue at all. The iPod today will play two AAC-vased formats: non-DRM AAC and AAC/FairPlay. No iPod out today will play AAC/JoesDRM.

All iTMS songs are AAC/FairPlay. If another store opens selling AAC/JoesDRM, that store's songs will be just as incompatible with your iPod as Napster's.

Thus, Apple holds all the cards in the AAC/FairPlay DRM, just as Microsoft holds all the cards in the WMA/DRM.

Apple is, indeed, free to license FairPlay. Microsoft has also licensed WMA/DRM.

I think it is time to put to rest the "AAC/FairPlay is better because AAC is Open" argument. FairPlay is not open, and not externally licensed.

jettredmont
Dec 1, 2003, 02:13 AM
Originally posted by dguisinger
Everyone keeps talking about all the licensing fees owed to MS. If i remember correctly, MS was gaining market share with WMA because they gave the file format specs / patent licenses away for free, unlike MP3/AAC.

Yes, precisely. But for the full picture you also have to note that MS has a long and extensive history of charging for things after they have killed all competition. Microsoft is a business, and oftentimes more likely than most businesses to go just a shade across the line of legality to make a profit.

You don't really believe that MS is giving away the WMA format licenses for the betterment of mankind, do you?

Fukui
Dec 1, 2003, 02:13 AM
Originally posted by jettredmont
Actually, the "openness" of AAC is not an issue at all. The iPod today will play two AAC-vased formats: non-DRM AAC and AAC/FairPlay. No iPod out today will play AAC/JoesDRM.

All iTMS songs are AAC/FairPlay. If another store opens selling AAC/JoesDRM, that store's songs will be just as incompatible with your iPod as Napster's.

Thus, Apple holds all the cards in the AAC/FairPlay DRM, just as Microsoft holds all the cards in the WMA/DRM.

Apple is, indeed, free to license FairPlay. Microsoft has also licensed WMA/DRM.

I think it is time to put to rest the "AAC/FairPlay is better because AAC is Open" argument. FairPlay is not open, and not externally licensed.

Fairplay Licence (http://64.244.235.240/)

You might want to read the white paper...interesting.

mproud
Dec 1, 2003, 02:23 AM
It's not a rumor... is it?

But whatever you guys did to that link... MARVELOUS! No NY Times registration required!!!

Beats the MacMinute link to the punch!

Trimix
Dec 1, 2003, 03:35 AM
as soon as the music store makes it to europe i will not only have to buy 112 songs by the last count but then i will also plunk down hard earned cash for an i-pod.

frankly so far the appeal of the i-pod is linked to me to be able to buy music from itms. if people in europe feel similarly then there could be nice sales number achieved over here.
disagree with low memory and low price to compete on the lower end. the ipod is a statement and as such it should be tops in memory and usablility and can be allowed a higher sticker price.

madamimadam
Dec 1, 2003, 03:38 AM
Originally posted by Trimix
as soon as the music store makes it to europe i will not only have to buy 112 songs by the last count but then i will also plunk down hard earned cash for an i-pod.

Tell me about it... we here in Oz have the "slight" problem that our laws are out of date and it is not legal to make back up copies of your music. In other words, it is like owning a VCR, you can buy a digital music player but you can't put any music on it unless you own the rights to it.

Needless to say, I don't expect ITMS here any time soon.

iMeowbot
Dec 1, 2003, 04:03 AM
Originally posted by Fukui
Fairplay Licence (http://64.244.235.240/)

You might want to read the white paper...interesting.

Looking into this, it really doesn't look as though Veridisc's Fairplay is what Apple is using; it appears to be just a concidental name.

Veridisc is part of a company called Circle Group Holdings, which makes nearly all its money selling mattresses (http://www.bedsandbeyond.com). Its total revenues are under USD1 million/year.

Third quarter results (http://www.crgq.com/press/11_17_2003.html)

Analysis by JM Dutton (http://www.jmdutton.com/Research/CRGQ/Reports/CRGQ_Report_121802.html)

emanu
Dec 1, 2003, 04:07 AM
Originally posted by Mr.Hey
That is the fate of the Alfa-Male.

revision 2 : 10GB, 15GB, 30GB

X-Baz
Dec 1, 2003, 04:37 AM
forget the FM tuner - go one better and stick a DAB tuner on it. All the digital radios you can get now are plug-ugly and it is a market waiting for a player like Apple to make it take off

rdowns
Dec 1, 2003, 05:12 AM
Originally posted by madamimadam
I hate to sound the wanker but the iPod was released in October (as shown on Apple's Website (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60917)) and it has been revised 3 times:

Original 5GB
Revision 1 = Original 5GB + 10GB and 15GB with touch scroll
Revision 2 = 10GB, 15GB and 20GB (I think those are the right numbers)
Revision 3 = 10GB, 20GB, 40GB

Released In October and revised thrice.

Analog Kid
Dec 1, 2003, 05:35 AM
So, I wonder what would happen if the licensing terms for music changed in a way that made selling it online profitable... Suddenly the MS store would be competing with these other guys for profits rather than just being a vehicle to push market share of a format.

Gotta wonder if the licensing terms for WMA would suddenly change...

It'll also be interesting to see what happens when the next generation of codecs comes along... Who's gonna use what? Will MS change to WMA2 or something just to give the impression that they're advancing even if there is no technical benefit?

Or to lock out other companies?

Or to force a change in licensing terms?

Gizmotoy
Dec 1, 2003, 08:08 AM
Originally posted by kidd0
$75 x 4 = $300
256 x 4 = 1000mb = 1GB

Thats $300 for 1GB, I bought my 15GB for $350 off Amazon, and it came with a 1 year warranty, dock, headphones, case, everything.

The problem with your math, besides the fact that 256 x 4 is 1024, being that flash and hard drive players are two completely separate categories. Flash media is obviously more expensive than hard drives per Meg. Those who buy Flash players suck up the high price and low capacity because they need something with no moving parts. If sheer storage capacity is all you need, don't buy a flash player!

You'd be better served by making your comparisons to other Hard Drive-based players, like the Nomad Zen (30Gig, $300), etc...

Awimoway
Dec 1, 2003, 08:18 AM
Originally posted by DTphonehome
Read the article. Jobs was answering a question about the possibility of a third-party company releasing white headphones to imitate the iPod's (so the wearer could look like he had one). His point was that the deception wouldn't work past the most superficial level.

--DT

That's not what I got out of it. Read the rest of the paragraph. The interviewer says "that's thinking long-term," and Jobs responds, "no, that's being an optimist." Remember that the writer states that he kept hoping he might catch a peek into the inner mind of Jobs and he ends with this.

What I think it means is that Jobs recognizes that producing the best product, the coolest product is not enough. "Being an optimist" means that he can only hope the girl will be disappointed. He sees himself as a master of cool living in an uncool world. He recognizes that someday the iPod, like previous Apple products, will probably lose someday to many other, less cool knockoffs.

This is what makes the article so great. Its attempt to peel away the veneer and get into the inner mind of Apple shows success. What we see is a company bent on producing products that are bar-none the best and the coolest. But the company itself recognizes that there are a thousand uncool wannabes nipping at their heels who usually win out in the end. Apple just tries to make their time in the sun last as long as possible. They expect to lose eventually and save face (at least amongst themselves) by continuing to produce the same cool products to a small, high-end niche of the market long after the uncool masses have passed them by. This is apparently how Jobs can look at himself in the mirror everyday and not feel like he lost collosally to Bill Gates (which, in some senses, he did): he and his company are just too cool for most people to appreciate it.

Squire
Dec 1, 2003, 08:41 AM
Originally posted by themadchemist
a vibrant article...more than good...it felt like it had a soul, like it was personable, and not another technophile's numbers break down. it was very "Apple," in that sense.

That- what you wrote above- could not more accurately depict my feelings about that article. It's so...refreshing to read a well-written newspaper article. The rag I'm accustomed to is full of nonsense.

Great, great article. I'm going to go buy an iPod. Really.

Squire

alandail
Dec 1, 2003, 09:28 AM
Originally posted by gekko513
Because the iTMS is US only. I can buy WMA music online now, but not AAC.

Then the correct solution is to get the rights so the iTMS can be world wide.

the_mole1314
Dec 1, 2003, 09:31 AM
Originally posted by alandail
Then the correct solution is to get the rights so the iTMS can be world wide.

Easier said than done.

Awimoway
Dec 1, 2003, 09:37 AM
Originally posted by paulwhannel
so, i think the iPod will stay AAC until the next format comes along. then we'll see. but don't look for it in the next few years... once the color screen and other features go into future revisions of iPods, they'll continue to dominate the market just like they're beginning to do now.

pnw

I don't think so. Consider the dizzying array of improvements added to the latest generation of iPods: on-the-fly playlists and a dock connector for improved peripheral functionality.

That's not much, is it?

The article really stresses Apple's drive to keep it simple. Wouldn't color eat away battery life? Is it necessary? And what other improvements does it really need that wouldn't, in the end, just make it clunkier, geekier, or somehow less usable in its basic form (because most additions would hurt battery life)?

Our culture is driven on the concept that the technology of tomorrow is better than that of today. We naturally come to expect that everything new is better.
And this is why Apple expects to someday lose marketshare, because they will not adopt any new technology that there isn't genuine NEED for.

But they can't control what people want, and they can't control what other, less cool, less intelligent companies think people want (or dictate to people what they want). Expectations will outpace Apple, as they always do, and yet Apple will keep plugging away putting out the best product for a smaller number of customers.

kcwookie
Dec 1, 2003, 09:39 AM
We need to keep things going the way they are. The iPod is selling well and it is a symbol of status. Dropping the price or making a "budget one" won't improve sales. Has there been a great rush to buy the low end macs, if there has it hasn't been reported.

johnnyjibbs
Dec 1, 2003, 09:39 AM
There was indeed a mistake in the article regarding iPhoto. iPhoto was the last iLife app to be released, in Jan 2002. I think iMovie came first, then iTunes. But that hardly matters.

Another point, in some ways Apple is as much a monopoly as Microsoft but on a smaller more niche scale (That's the case with the Mac and you being forced to use Mac OS, even though we think that's a good thing, and also the iPod and AAC). I'm not sure about the exact ins and outs of AAC and the FairPlay DRM but I guess it does not necessarily have to be exclusive to Apple.

Microsoft has a grasp on Dell and Napster and the other computer/player manufacturers. They worry that if they don't go with Microsoft they will be cut out of the market. If you can't beat them... Apple is the only company that seems to put up a fight against Microsoft, which can only be a good thing for us consumers.

My brother's iPod is a brilliant piece of equipment and I am envious (although I did get the PB G4 instead!) and it still has all the functionality it needs without WMA support. However, in recent years Apple has had to stay alive by co-existing with Windows and Microsoft, not isolating itself from it. With this AAC vs WMA we could be seeing this isolated rift opening again: iPod vs. everyone else.

As long as the iPod stays on top through being ahead of the game, however, Apple doesn't need to do anything. The moment it starts losing momentum, however, is the moment Apple will probably admit defeat and support WMA (last resort).

Awimoway
Dec 1, 2003, 09:50 AM
Originally posted by jettredmont
If the iPod were to support WMA, then the vast majority of users would start encoding in WMA instead of AAC. This does two things:
1) It puts Apple at the mercy of Microsoft, even moreso than it is in the PC arena (via Office). Microsoft controls the WMA format and WMA encoders, which gives MS undue leverage in both players and in music stores.


I really like your first point, but the DRM issue needs to be addressed. If other companies or entities -- I'm thinking of the post in this discussion about Norwegian music, for example -- need DRM and want their music available for iPods, all they need to do is put it on iTMS. Apple may have a monopoly on FairPlay AAC, but they ARE letting anyone who wants sell their music using this DRM. They just have to put it up on iTMS using the program set up for indie labels.

Websites that distribute DRM-protected WMA files could, for iPod users, put up links to DRM-protected AAC files of the same material at iTMS. In a way, iTMS is already becoming something of a web broswer plug-in.

However, Apple should address the needs of not-for-profit groups who wish to distribute audio material but want to use DRM. There should be a way to submit and distribute free material via iTMS. After all, iTMS is not really meant to make a profit anyway--it's there to serve the iPod. And until I can put ANY material I want on my iPod, it isn't being fully served.

Of course, much of this is moot until iTMS is available for our foreign friends and Canadians (who are, of course, not "foreign" ;) ).

rjstanford
Dec 1, 2003, 10:17 AM
Originally posted by brhmac
$300, 10 gigs - 2500 songs
$400, 20 gigs - 5000 songs
$500, 40 gigs - 10000 songs

What exactly is the "competition"? Spend $200 on a player made by another company and you get, if you're lucky, 512 mb. And what is the level of synchronization with the player and a legal music download service?

I'm not saying the iPod is inexpensive, but it is by far the best value on the market today. I would expect that trend to continue.Highest quality? Perhaps. Best value? Not for some time.

Its going to be interesting to see how iPod can compete with some of the newer players out there, like the Archos AV340 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000A3KY4/heraldcommunicat) ($500 20gb, $615 40gb). Several others are out there as well. They generally have some issues (being resolved like many 1st generation products), but considering that they're selling for 20% more than the iPod and manage to add video capability (including playback and recording), that scores mighty highly on the "impress your friends" scale, which many people in this thread seem to be saying is where iPod's competitive advantage really shines.

From the amazon review: "It is the pinnacle of technology in MP3/MP4 players today. ... [T]he screen is so big and beautiful. I would buy this if you are lookin for a great MP3 or Video player. It definetly puts the Ipod to shame. ..." Accurate? Who knows. A potential marketing threat? Definately.

Personally, I still like the iPod. Then again, I also drive an Audi - another company with great products who will never compete in sales volume with the likes of Ford/GM (at least not in the US). Most people out there who are looking for the biggest bang for the buck are going to start seriously looking at competitors, as they improve their designs or add features beyond those of Apple. For a while now, Apple has had the only decent player. That's no longer the case, and if they keep pricing it as if it was, they're going to wonder what happened. Offer most people something 90% as good for 50% as much, and they'll take the cheaper product.

-Richard

scat999999
Dec 1, 2003, 10:25 AM
Palm OS continues to own the PDA marketplace despite Gate's best efforts. No reason Apple can't do the same with AAC.
As far as Windows support for the G5, I hope MS does come out with Virtual PC that supports the G5. If not, it could keep a lot of people, (switchers,like me) from upgrading from our G4s.



Originally posted by jettredmont
If Apple can keep WMA from becoming a de facto standard, and AAC as the primary post-MP3 music format, Apple takes the control reigns from Microsoft. That is a big win for Apple, allowing Apple to control the music market the same way Microsoft is aiming to do with WMA.



So, IMHO, waiting for WMA support in the iPod is a bit like waiting for Intel support in OS X or conversely Windows support on a G5: it just doesn't make sense from a long-term business strategy perspective, and so won't likely happen unless things go drastically "wrong".

SiliconAddict
Dec 1, 2003, 10:34 AM
Originally posted by brhmac

I'm not saying the iPod is inexpensive, but it is by far the best value on the market today. I would expect that trend to continue.

You are kidding right? Pay attention to the completion.
-Dell 15GB device runs $199. (After instant rebate.)
-The Napster thing has a 20GB drive, and runs equal to the 10GB iPod in price (e.g. $300)

Nobody cares about value. Itís about the bottom line price. Look the price of the iPod has always been set at a premium and you guys know it. Apple has been price gouging the consumer because they knew that they were the ****, king of the Hill, top of the heap, the big Kahoona. With the advent of these new hard drive players people are going to start questioning if paying that premium is still worth it. Looks be danged if a person can save $50+, can get options that arenít available on the iPod these devices stand a chance at eating away at iPodís market share.
I think that is why the CEO or RealMedia said what he said. Because Apple and more accurately Jobs is a stubborn SOB. I think heís going to keep these inflated prices until the iPod truly does have a 4-5% market share. Then again its obvious that Jobs is intending Apple to be a major player in the music industry otherwise hell wouldnít have frozen over a few months ago. Hopefully Jobs realizes that he canít maintain the premium prices that the iPod is currently set at without getting nibbled to death by the competition. Keep in mind its not just Dell Apple is competing with. Its Apple vs any hard drive device. In the 5-year time span RMís CEO gave there are going to be a flood of other hard drive devices. You ainít seen nothing yet guys. In 5 years Iím willing to bet there will be 30-50 models available. All easting .5% of a market point from Apple. Like it or not price matters. Screw a BMW if you only have the cash for a Ford Focus and donít care about the luxury \ trendy factor.

The Christmas shopping season is going to be a very interesting barometer to see how well these devices do against the iPod. Iím betting they will do better then you guys expect because right now AAC and WMA donít own the market. MP3 does and both iPod and these other devices do MP3.

SiliconAddict
Dec 1, 2003, 10:41 AM
Originally posted by scat999999
Palm OS continues to own the PDA marketplace despite Gate's best efforts. No reason Apple can't do the same with AAC.
As far as Windows support for the G5, I hope MS does come out with Virtual PC that supports the G5. If not, it could keep a lot of people, (switchers,like me) from upgrading from our G4s.

Pocket PC as of this summer have a greater market share in Europe then Palm. In the US it now has a 25-27% market share. Things will get really interesting with Palm OS 6 vs Pocket PC 2004.

If they don't come out with VPC for the Mac I won't get a Mac. Its that simple. :( Personally I think Apple should have known better then to leave that jewel sitting out there for Microsoft to snatch. Real bad form on their part.

mrsebastian
Dec 1, 2003, 11:55 AM
ipod is the coolest thing since sliced bread, for now anyway. that is why apple can sell them at such an expensive price and people don't care. it's like any other fashion or trend. first comes the innovator that creates that one thing everyone goes nuts for, which is shortly followed by a bazillion copycats trying to squeeze whatever marketshare they can. face it, the ipod is trendy and apple will charge a "trendy" price for their product :cool:

billyboy
Dec 1, 2003, 12:19 PM
Originally posted by SiliconAddict
I think heís going to keep these inflated prices until the iPod truly does have a 4-5% market share. Then again its obvious that Jobs is intending Apple to be a major player in the music industry otherwise hell wouldnít have frozen over a few months ago. Hopefully Jobs realizes that he canít maintain the premium prices that the iPod is currently set at without getting nibbled to death by the competition. Keep in mind its not just Dell Apple is competing with. Its Apple vs any hard drive device. In the 5-year time span RMís CEO gave there are going to be a flood of other hard drive devices. You ainít seen nothing yet guys. In 5 years Iím willing to bet there will be 30-50 models available. All easting .5% of a market point from Apple.

Sure you can milk a market if you are the first. Then you can milk the diminishing market as long as you are the best. Then you milk the market by innovating some more.

You cant worry too much about what every one else is earning. Apple accountants will demand that Jobs maximises profits for as long as possible on the iPod, and if volume of sales drops, so be it - but you can bet your bottom dollar that when the competition are congratulating themselves on huge market share of MP3 players for no profit, Apple will already be releasing the next "iPod type" product line, and so it goes on.

Bear in mind that Apple were into video way before they hit on music. That is where the optimist is heading next, and you can bet the gadget wont play a note of music from iTMS.

jettredmont
Dec 1, 2003, 12:26 PM
Originally posted by Fukui
Fairplay Licence (http://64.244.235.240/)

You might want to read the white paper...interesting.


Hmmm ... the white paper was written in early 2001, almost three years ago.

Veridisk, the creator of FairPlay, appears to exist today as a mere shell of a company.

Are you suggesting that Veridisk will be licensing FairPlay to other companies? Or that Apple doesn't control the FairPlay licensing?

IMHO, if Veridisk were able to license FairPlay freely to other music stores and jukeboxes and players, they would have done so already. That they haven't indicates that Apple controls the FairPlay licensing card, at least for the near term.

tychay
Dec 1, 2003, 12:41 PM
Originally posted by johnnyjibbs
Another point, in some ways Apple is as much a monopoly as Microsoft but on a smaller more niche scale (That's the case with the Mac and you being forced to use Mac OS, even though we think that's a good thing, and also the iPod and AAC).

You really need to take a basic course in economics or law. There are two definitions for a monopoly and Apple fits neither while Microsoft fits both. The fact that they fit the legal definition of a monopoly means that they aren't allowed to play by the same bundling rules as Apple. Economically, when Apple does this bundling it is called vertical integration; when Microsoft does it, it is called vertical foreclosure.

The difference is quite simple in theory. A monopolist (Microsoft) can extract rents on their monopoly (OS, Office) by manipulating the price (check their latest quarterlies). They can then use those rents to foreclose a new market (media player software, hardware, and codecs).

While the jury is still out on this instance, I have no doubt that in 20 years, this will be in basic economic textbooks as examples.

When Apple attempts to do the same and does not provide tangible benefits, the market punishes them suitably. Look at the history of the Macintosh back when Apple was 30x bigger than Microsoft. Look up the origins of 4th Dimension, etc. If they do succeed it is streamlining for efficiency. A wonderful example of this is Dell and their legendary WalMart-inspired streamlining of the supply chain. They achieved their dominant market position this way--that dominant position is not a monopoly, that's good business.

Apple is the only company that seems to put up a fight against Microsoft, which can only be a good thing for us consumers.

Simply not true. In the enterprise market, there are a ton of Linux-related companies that go head-to-head with Microsoft and their adoption is much faster than NT/2000/2003. In areas where there is no 3rd party (Unix) to cannibalize sales from, Microsoft is losing market share (Apache, PHP). Java seems to be holding it's own.

I don't see Microsoft trumpeting any of their wins in government while open source keeps nicking away at it--Peru, Brazil, Germany, China, and possibly Great Britain, Japan, and South Korea.

In the embedded market, Linux-related products are just starting to cannibalize Windows CE mostly because Windows CE never managed to get strongly entrenched. I'd bet dollars to donuts that we'll start seeing Linux-powered automotive systems soon (an area dominated by Microsoft).

In the PDA market, Microsoft has beat a hasty retreat to mobile phones. (No matter how Microsoft tries to spin their PocketPC sales numbers.)

In the mobile market, Symbian seems to be holding it's own. (God knows why.)

In the console market, Sony still has the largest market share. I believe the Xbox is finally starting to outsell the GameCube but unlike the Nintendo, it has yet to show a profit. Every time a spreadsheet at Sony shows that Microsoft might break even on the hardware, Sony reduces the price and Microsoft is forced to respond. Take a look at the specs of the upcoming Playstation 3 and Xbox 2--granted one is coming out a year before the other. But that one looks an awful lot like a GameCube, and it isn't the one that's making a profit.

In the media player software/codecs, they are doing so bad that they have to find ways to make an unplanned and poorly timed (to the EC) entry into the hardware media player and downloadable music player market next year. While they commit these textbook examples of foreclosure, Quicktime is doing so well with its tiny market share that it has become the pro format of choice and drives so many eyeballs to Apple that Apple.com consistently beats all other computer manufacturers in page views (yes, even Dell). Also, don't count out Real which does extremely well in mobile devices--much better than Windows Media, in fact.

Microsoft does extremely well in operating systems and applications. These two (traditional and proven monopolies) combine for more profit than the whole of the company and most of the company's entire revenue. MS also makes a profit on "enterprise" and a token amount on internet (though I have a feeling that the latter was manipulated in order to hide how much profit they're making off the OS and Applications... this can easily be done through a variety of methods: paying egregious sums for search result placement in MSN, for example). All other divisions are losing money by the truckload (but MS has a truckload to lose, they make more profit on the OS alone than Apple books in total revenue).

But you have to ask yourself, outside their traditional monopoly base, where isn't a company putting up a fight despite the reality that Microsoft has a near infinite capability to subsidize their foreclosure attempts in a myriad of tech related markets.

And then, just maybe you might ask yourself why they do it. Then perhaps you'd come to the conclusion that I have. That they're all on to Microsoft's game and realize that you cannot safely partner up with a company with a long history of attacking their current and former partners through legal and illegal levers (Apple, IBM, Digital Research, Stack, Gateway, HP, AOL...) and as a company policy believes, deep down, that you are the enemy.

With this AAC vs WMA we could be seeing this isolated rift opening again: iPod vs. everyone else.

So you and a lot of people keep doomsaying when all the evidence points to Microsoft and especially their product partners blinking first.

The moment it starts losing momentum, however, is the moment Apple will probably admit defeat and support WMA (last resort).

Far more likely defeat: Apple licenses FairPlay as a free and open standard and lobbies the MPEG-4 consortium to lower their pricing to compete with Windows Media.

But remember, nobody in the TV, movie, and music industry is at a rush to adopt Windows Media, Microsoft had to move to bundle a Windows Media 9 player into non Windows XP systems and attempt to push it through a standards body in the hopes that it might stem hemorrhaging it's obviously doing.

dobbs
Dec 1, 2003, 01:56 PM
Originally posted by theFly
I don't see any point in supporting WMA.
If you own an iPod and want to purchase music, you go to the iTMS. There are no advantages any of the other services have over iTMS.


What about people who own iPods and have no interest in iTMS at all? I'm one of them. I have close to 100 gigs of legally purchased music and not a single song purchased from iTMS. I have zero interest in the service. None.

Now, my songs are all MP3s but I know many people who've converted to WMA instead of MP3 and have not bought iPods for the very reason that they don't want to rip their collections again.

You may think they're stupid for going WMA instead of MP3, but, oh well, it's not your music. Apple shouldn't be making the decision for people as to what format they prefer. If it's simple for the iPod to support WMA then there's no reason NOT to do it.

The point is that there is no reason for Apple to not have the iPod support WMA. Barring licensing fees, it costs them nothing and has the potential to get them more customers.

The only logic I can see in not supporting WMA is that then someone with an iPod may buy their music from a non-iTMS music store. So what? Jobs has already said that they make no money from iTMS and that the store's purpose is to sell iPods. In the case of the person who has an iPod and wants WMA support, Jobs has already made as much money off of that customer as he can, no?

If I were Jobs, I'd make the iPod--not iTMS--support WMA. There is lots to gain and nothing to lose.

As a recent switcher to Apple, I can't help but shake my head at some of the ridiculous decisions the company makes. Not supporting WMA is almost as dumb--almost--as the one button mouse. I say this as someone who has ZERO interest in WMA but lots of interest in Apple selling more iPods.

When the iPod first premiered and was Apple only, I was amazed. Seemed to me one of the stupidest decisions the company ever made. However many millions of iPods they sold in the first few years could have been ten times as many and any of these new competitors wouldn't have stood a chance getting a foothold.

Now, as it stands, I agree with the Real Networks exec. Unless Apple makes some serious changes to their marketing (supporting WMA for instance), their market share will indeed slip substantially in the next few years.

Kid Red
Dec 1, 2003, 02:07 PM
Originally posted by dobbs
What about people who own iPods and have no interest in iTMS at all? I'm one of them. I have close to 100 gigs of legally purchased music and not a single song purchased from iTMS. I have zero interest in the service. None.

Now, my songs are all MP3s but I know many people who've converted to WMA instead of MP3 and have not bought iPods for the very reason that they don't want to rip their collections again.

You may think they're stupid for going WMA instead of MP3, but, oh well, it's not your music. Apple shouldn't be making the decision for people as to what format they prefer. If it's simple for the iPod to support WMA then there's no reason NOT to do it.

The point is that there is no reason for Apple to not have the iPod support WMA. Barring licensing fees, it costs them nothing and has the potential to get them more customers.

The only logic I can see in not supporting WMA is that then someone with an iPod may buy their music from a non-iTMS music store. So what? Jobs has already said that they make no money from iTMS and that the store's purpose is to sell iPods. In the case of the person who has an iPod and wants WMA support, Jobs has already made as much money off of that customer as he can, no?

If I were Jobs, I'd make the iPod--not iTMS--support WMA. There is lots to gain and nothing to lose.

As a recent switcher to Apple, I can't help but shake my head at some of the ridiculous decisions the company makes. Not supporting WMA is almost as dumb--almost--as the one button mouse. I say this as someone who has ZERO interest in WMA but lots of interest in Apple selling more iPods.

When the iPod first premiered and was Apple only, I was amazed. Seemed to me one of the stupidest decisions the company ever made. However many millions of iPods they sold in the first few years could have been ten times as many and any of these new competitors wouldn't have stood a chance getting a foothold.

Now, as it stands, I agree with the Real Networks exec. Unless Apple makes some serious changes to their marketing (supporting WMA for instance), their market share will indeed slip substantially in the next few years.

You're reasoning is flawed. Apple must support and exclusively push ACC because of ITMS. Not only that but because why add another notch to MS? That's the last thing we need to do. QT already lost the battle to WMP and we need not to loose a format battle to them as well. The iPod and ITMS like it or not are twins. One plays what the other one sells. You can also rip your CDs if you want to, but please do it to ACC is what Apple is saying.

Some people made the decision to go WMA, that's their decision, and I guess they won't be getting an iPod. This is only an issue because now there's a windows version. Why change everything we're about just to appease some window users? I'd rather Apple stay the course on their first idea of ACC and push that more then succumb to MS. Apple doesn't hurt if some window user buys a Dell instead, as any sold to the other side is just a bonus.

The iPod is 'it' device. I don't see an mp3 player replacing it with it's built up status and name recognition. As as long as Apple innovates, it can keep the iPod's market share and expand it well enough into the future so we can email Real's CEO and tell him how wise he was (not).

the_mole1314
Dec 1, 2003, 02:29 PM
Guys, the idea is to accept all formats, but make it so it takes more to transform a WMA to AAC, so people are inclined to go AAC instead.

k2k koos
Dec 1, 2003, 03:21 PM
I want an iPod too, have one remaining problem, my main Mac doesn't have fire wire and most iPods have a larger HD than the said (or sad?) Mac....

I really need a new one! ;)

Still I keep smiling, i loved the article, and am saving up for a new Powerbook (dual g4 or perhaps G5) of course with firewire, so I can connect a then just out next generation iPod with color screen 80GB HD, and firewire 800 connections...

Okay, I'll stop dreaming, but if anyone at Apple is reading this, please make my day! thanks a lot.
I think as a user and owner of Macs since 1989 I deserve that.

tychay
Dec 1, 2003, 04:39 PM
Originally posted by dobbs
When the iPod first premiered and was Apple only, I was amazed. Seemed to me one of the stupidest decisions the company ever made. However many millions of iPods they sold in the first few years could have been ten times as many and any of these new competitors wouldn't have stood a chance getting a foothold.

Now, as it stands, I agree with the Real Networks exec. Unless Apple makes some serious changes to their marketing (supporting WMA for instance), their market share will indeed slip substantially in the next few years.

Yeah and this is why you're not CEO of a well-regarded profitable company. Okay genius, how many macs did the iPod sell? How can they introduce a product that doesn't exist? Especially when at the time it used a disk drive format that PCs didn't understand? and when it had an egregiously short time to market? to sell to a market that was still stuck on USB 1.1 (hell, they're still stuck on USB)? and synchronize it to an iTunes for Windows that doesn't exist?

Go back and read the trade reports of the iPod launch: nobody was that impressed until the reviews came out and Apple started to book more and more revenue because they thought the "high margin company" Apple (a myth, BTW), was entering shark-infested hyper-competitive MP3 player market and would get eaten alive. And nobody perked up until iTunes Music Store came out and Apple announced that they had plans on porting iTunes to Windows. The only person who even registered anything like disappointment that the iPod wasn't available on Windows at its launch was Bill Gates himself.

Go ahead and agree with the Real Networks exec who sits on a competing media format and is stuck with a downloadable music system that is the joke of the industry and ironically works only on your competitor's media format. He obviously has no agenda or sour grapes. *snort*

And you know when Apple loses 20% marketshare in two years from their outrageously dominant one of today (#1 seller, >50% of all digital music player by revenue, ~80% of all downloadable digital music sales). You'll be here saying, "I told you so."

In the meantime, Apple has carted away wheelbarrows full of cash, successfully and legally staved off a "lock in" attempt from a convicted monopolist who spent billions without breaking their bank, and moved on to some greener pasture. Not to mention the mindshare they will have when everyone refers to any digital music player as an "ipod" like we refer to any portable CD players as "discman" and any portable stereo cassette players as a "walkman".

And they won't have to pay all those "hip" TV shows for product placement like Microsoft does. Or have to convince the EC how bundling their player is not an obvious attempt at abusing a monopoly lever when the next month they announce their plans of launching a music store (with accompanying unremovable icon on the desktop that launches their propertary and bundled browser to visit their website totally under their control) and a Microsoft branded digital music player.

Frobozz
Dec 1, 2003, 05:14 PM
Yeah, cause we all know how much RealNetworks is doing to change the face of entertainment. Are they even relevant anymore?

jettredmont
Dec 1, 2003, 07:21 PM
Originally posted by the_mole1314
Guys, the idea is to accept all formats, but make it so it takes more to transform a WMA to AAC, so people are inclined to go AAC instead.

I believe that it is legally impossible to ship a product that converts WMA/DRM to AAC/FairPlay.

The agreements between music publishers and digital download stores specifies both format and level of "protection" for the download files. It is certainly not the intention of the copyright owner (the record label in 99% of all cases) to allow you, the lowly and insignificant user, to cross-code their files. Because of this, I have every reason to believe that they would use the DMCA to do what the DMCA was intended: stop people from "breaking" a DRM, even if the software automagically re-DRMs the music in another form.

The big record companies are on all the music download services. However, consider smaller labels that have only signed with one or two of the services. Do you think they'd be happy to have their BuyMusic 3-burn-limit songs crosscoded to the infinite-burn AAC/FairPlay format?

No, it just doesn't make gut or legal sense to allow DRM cross-coding. IMHO, it just won't happen, ever.

dobbs
Dec 1, 2003, 08:46 PM
Originally posted by Kid Red Why change everything we're about just to appease some window users?

As Jobs says in the article, he's not thinking in terms of "windows users" but "music lovers". I agree with that statement. I'm a music lover and when I had a PC I would have bought an iPod when they first came out had they worked on my system.

Originally posted by tychay
Yeah and this is why you're not CEO of a well-regarded profitable company. Okay genius, --

First off, tychay, why do you have to be so condescending? Is it really so difficult for you to accept that people have different opinions than you do?

Anyway...


Originally posted by tychay
Okay genius, how many macs did the iPod sell?

I haven't a clue. I doubt you do, either, unless you can point to some source that will tell you how many people switched from PC to Mac based solely on the iPod.

Were I to take an educated guess (and base it on my own experience from when I was an PC user), I'd say zero or very very few.

To me, it's a given. How/why would I, as a PC user, switch to Apple because of the iPod? The iPod was not available for PC so I never had a chance to try one until later when I was a Mac user (I did not switch platforms because of the iPod, btw). If I'd never touched one it would be hard for it to win me over.

On the other hand, if it had been available for PC and I bought one and was wow'd by its interface/simplicity/design, I might have switched to Apple sooner than I eventually did. So, in my opinion, a PC version would have had more people switch.


How can they introduce a product that doesn't exist?

You mean, as opposed to introducing a product that already exists? Sorry, but I don't understand your statement.

and when it had an egregiously short time to market?

Last I looked, egregious meant offensive or bad, but your other points about no iTunes and not a rampant use of Firewire are interesting. It was, as far as I can recall, possible for people to have firewire cards in their PCs--and again, as far as I recall, when the iPod first came out for Windows there was no iTunes for it. It ran off musicmatch or something, no?

The only person who even registered anything like disappointment that the iPod wasn't available on Windows at its launch was Bill Gates himself.

The "only" person? Exaggerate much?

At the time the units were annouced, I was a lurker at visorcentral.com and I remember people on that board (PC users) complaining about it's lack of availability.

Check out the thread from OCT 2001: http://discussion.visorcentral.com/vcforum/showthread.php?threadid=19011&highlight=iPod

First PC complainer is at the top of page two and he wasn't alone. (And that isn't even a music/mp3 board.)



Go ahead and agree with the Real Networks exec who sits on a competing media format and is stuck with a downloadable music system that is the joke of the industry and ironically works only on your competitor's media format. He obviously has no agenda or sour grapes. *snort*

I wasn't agreeing with him because of who he was, but what he said. Nor does my agreement mean I like or use Real. Like any intelligent person, I dis/agree with statements, rather than people across the board. Ever heard the statement 'condemn the speech not the speaker'? You might want to try it sometime.

Oh, and whether you like it or not, I have no agenda on this issue. Or sour grapes.

Not to mention the mindshare they will have when everyone refers to any digital music player as an "ipod" like we refer to any portable CD players as "discman" and any portable stereo cassette players as a "walkman".

I don't think that's going to happen. Ever. And though it's true re: "walkman,"--non-Sony companies were very late to market and Sony made the first walkman-style portable tape player whereas Apple didn't have the first mp3 player (hell, they didn't even have the first hard drive mp3 player)--I don't think it's even remotely true re: discman. I don't know anyone who refers to their non-Sony portable cd player as a discman.

And they won't have to pay all those "hip" TV shows for product placement like Microsoft does. yadda yadda yadda

Speaking of agendas... you seem to have turned your response into an anti-microsoft tirade. Whatever, man. Though I don't like MS either, I think it's inevitable that Apple not gain ground in the PC marketplace unless they're going to support WMA, which is growing more popular all the time.

And yes, I realize that's a catch-22 (supporting wma on ipod will make it more popular), but, as Jobs said, he shouldn't be thinking in terms of platform but making potential customers out of every music lover he can.

tychay
Dec 1, 2003, 11:10 PM
Originally posted by dobbs
First off, tychay, why do you have to be so condescending?

Okay, point taken. I apologize for any rude wording. Shouldn't the question we all should ask be why these other players aren't supporting AAC (and demanding Apple open up Fairplay) and not why is Apple not supporting the little-used and proprietary WMA.

I was trying to bring you down from the mountaintop: "if I were Jobs... As a recent switcher to Apple, I can't help but shake my head at some of the ridiculous decisions the company makes...When the iPod first premiered and was Apple only, I was amazed. Seemed to me one of the stupidest decisions the company ever made. " Note: I am taking those quotes slightly out of context to give you a feel of how I read your post. After all, you were only like the twelfth poster to say that Apple should adopt WMA on the iPod without answering any of the previous posters' points.

As for that last statement, I singled it out as impossible or impractical given the state of the iPod at that time. The iPod according to an old design chain article (http://www.designchain.com/coverstory.asp?issue=summer02) was rushed through a very fast track design and had no PC software, interconnect hardware, or disk drive format that existed. Also, neither Apple nor anyone else predicted it being such a huge hit except when they were "being an optimist" to use Job's phrase.

The questions were rhetorical and referenced that design chain article (because that knowledge formed nearly the entire core source material of the NYT article). I'm sorry they came off as crass.

A simple history shows that Apple had to roll out Windows support. First support the the PC file format (in two separate iterations I might add, the first one is very confusing to a lot of 1st Gen Windows iPod users), then USB2 support (meaningless in the Mac world, essential to most Windows users), then finally iTunes for Windows. Sounds like a company porting to a new platform as fast as humanly possible.

I haven't a clue. I doubt you do, either, unless you can point to some source that will tell you how many people switched from PC to Mac based solely on the iPod.

I have anecdotal evidence of two people who never owned a Mac who purchased a Mac just for the iPod (2001). There is numerous testimonials to this effect in SlashDot, Ars Technica, etc. I have the fact that the first magazine to even posit that an iPod could stand alone on its sales was this Business Week article in July 2003 (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jul2003/tc2003072_0512_tc056.htm)--it was quite sensationalistic when it came out though in 20/20 hindsight it seems obvious. I have numerous hits for the words "ipod spur mac sales". It was the prevailing wisdom. When Apple finally debuted a weak Windows compatible iPod, people then labeled it a "trojan horse" to drive Mac adoption. You can look that up too.

Also, I have a simple 1st year B-school knowledge that using a popular low margin product to drive sales of a high margin product is usually a sensible and safe move. Nearly every platform uses a platform game to drive sales of the game system; Best Buy uses CDs as a loss leader to get people in the store to sell appliances.

The problem was that it came apparent that Apple's lead over competitors wasn't a couple months as most everyone predicted (in fact most people expected Apple to not last that long in the razor thin margin, hyper-competitive MP3 player market). It turned out to be at least a couple years and they could enjoy high margins on both products.

This led CFO Fred Andersen to claim in a recent conference call (3Q 2003) that Apple would be officially trying to drive sales to the iPod irrespective of the Mac (I think he used the word "diversify" and only hinted at this so you are left to interpret this event differently).

To me, it's a given. How/why would I, as a PC user, switch to Apple because of the iPod?

You're entitled to your opinion. I'll point out that the usability and build quality of the iPod (and secondarily the iBook/Powerbook and the Mac OS X operating system), drive a lot of people to at least claim that they've taken (or are going to take) a second look at Apple products.

As for whether it translates into sales. I can only say, I know of three cases personally. While I'll be the first to admit this is very small, it does debunk your guess of zero.

On the other hand, if it had been available for PC and I bought one and was wow'd by its interface/simplicity/design, I might have switched to Apple sooner than I eventually did. So, in my opinion, a PC version would have had more people switch.

And as I point out in my rhetorical question, Apple made it available as soon as it was humanly possible. In fact they bundled a third party product, MusicMatch, who later turned out to be a competitor (to the point where they launch misleading press releases about Apple iTunes) and had to format the "1st Gen" (5GB and 10GB) iPods to Windows until they could finish development on their Mac version.

Last I looked, egregious meant offensive or bad

Yes, I stand by my statement that I think that iPod and iTunes Music Store market share is "offensive" :) Given Apple's previous history as a company with a bad case of the "not-invented-here" I find their willingness to use so many supply chain partners to speed development "egregious" also. But then they reaffirm my view of them as a company by forcing them to sign senselessly secretive NDAs. ;)

Let me explain this choice of words. You said in your original post: "As a recent switcher to Apple, I can't help but shake my head at some of the ridiculous decisions the company makes." A lot of other longtime users here will say "been there, still doing that." Apple will break your heart every time. But then you realize it's just a company and a computer--talking about them is like talking about <insert favorite sports team>.

The "only" person? Exaggerate much?

It was a passing reference to a Steven Levy, Newsweek piece (http://www.apple.com/switch/press/index2.html): The iPod certainly got a lot of attention when I showed it to people, including a Windows guy named Bill Gates. He spun the wheel, checked out the menus on the display screen and seemed to get it immediately. ĎIt looks like a great product,í he said. And then he added, incredulous, ĎItís only for Macintosh?íĒ

Ever heard the statement 'condemn the speech not the speaker'? You might want to try it sometime.

Remind me again, I'm the one who is supposed to be the one who is condescending right? :D

I don't think that's going to happen. Ever. And though it's true re: "walkman,"--non-Sony companies were very late to market and Sony made the first walkman-style portable tape player whereas Apple didn't have the first mp3 player (hell, they didn't even have the first hard drive mp3 player)

Simply not true. Sony was the first with a portable stereo tape player, but certainly not the first with a portable tape player. Or should I take exception with your other qualification and apply it to Apple? "Apple was not the first 'iPod-style' hard drive mp3 player." I used to borrow a friend's Archos long before the iPod came out. I'm aware of the absurdity in equating that bulky, hard to navigate, slow-filecopying, battery-sucking entry to the obviously iPod-influenced models they offer today. It is because of the existence of Archos et. al. that pundits were proclaiming the iPod Apple's folly.

Speaking of agendas... you seem to have turned your response into an anti-microsoft tirade.

At least I don't resort to ad hominems. That "tirade" which you abusively misquote was a lame attempt to bring your thread "Apple should adopt WMA on iPod or die" back to the article and the main point of many of the posters here: 3rd party vendors should petition Apple to license FairPlay DRM, Apple has no business interest in supporting Windows media.

Whatever, man. Though I don't like MS either, I think it's inevitable that Apple not gain ground in the PC marketplace unless they're going to support WMA, which is growing more popular all the time.

During the 90's Mac zealots used the say the same about Macintosh sales. But we all know that (until recently) their market share was dwindling down to the point of being laughable.

Your statement doesn't line up with the reality that AAC went from 0% to 80% market share of commercial downloads in half a year. Seems like some media format had to take the hit. Ever wonder which one?

And yes, I realize that's a catch-22 (supporting wma on ipod will make it more popular), but, as Jobs said, he shouldn't be thinking in terms of platform but making potential customers out of every music lover he can.

Seems like he is. He's going with the near 100% market share (MP3) with the 80% downloadable market share (AAC). Unfortunately, he is also going with a (so far) proprietary DRM that has yet to be licensed to anyone. You'll notice a previous poster saw fit to flame me for my careless glossing over that fact and I was quick to shut my trap about it.

It's one of those "If you have the facts, pound the facts..." sort of thing. If I argue that, I'd be pounding the table.

BTW, there is no catch-22. Apple supporting WMA is a lose-lose, but apple not supporting it isn't. The iTunes/iPod integration and the scroll wheel represent the only lasting competitive advantages Apple can bank on with the iPod--both are protected by patents.

Unless you believe the NYT which implies that the key to Apple's success is the white earbud headphones.

~Shard~
Dec 1, 2003, 11:31 PM
Wow, really good discussion going on here. I enjoy reading through well thought out, intelligent discussions, with constructive arguments and statements. it's a refreshing change from some of the posters who just bash, complain, and can't even string a grammatically-correct, coherent sentence together! ;)

max11
Dec 2, 2003, 03:33 AM
This is a frantic discussion ! At the moment i'd say tychay is winning: it seems tychay has a background in economics/law based on his arguments (and the fact he drives an audi ;) ).

The only thing i want to add is this. There is no Gen4 iPod! The revisions are as follows:
Gen1: 5Gb & 10Gb (original)
Gen2: 5 & 10 & 20 (added touch wheel to top end models)
Gen3: 10 & 15 & 20 & 30 & 40 (complete redesign)

Adding size to an unchanged design does not constitute a revision! Other than that, there's no way i'm getting into the feverish WMA/ACC argument... i just aint that smart.... ;)

rjstanford
Dec 2, 2003, 10:23 AM
Originally posted by tychay
Apple supporting WMA is a lose-lose, but apple not supporting it isn't. The iTunes/iPod integration and the scroll wheel represent the only lasting competitive advantages Apple can bank on with the iPod--both are protected by patents.Hmm. How would iPod (not iTMS) supporting WMA reduce either of those advantages?

Right now, I rip my music into MP3 format. I'm actually going to go back and rerip into 320kbps, because I can (and I still won't be filling anywhere close to 40gb) and it makes a difference when pushed through to a decent stereo. There is no, zero, incentive for me to rip into any other format. The loss of portability with AAC far outweighs any minor (at that rate) audio gains I'd be seeing. Same with WMA for that reason.

So, who uses WMA? People who already have large volumes of music (ie: perfect iPod purchase candidates) but own PCs. Why wouldn't you want to target these folk? Wasn't that the whole reason that Apple put out the Windows-capable iPod in the first place? Who else uses it... people who shop on other music stores (ie: often people using competitive products like the Dell Jukebox or Napster Whatever). Doesn't Apple want them to switch, and buy the high-margin iPod? They never will if they can't take their music with them.

Let's say that the iPod did support WMA decoding. People who currently purchase music from iTunes in AAC format will still need an iPod to play it back. People (like me) who use the MP3 format exclusively won't care. Neither one of these groups will look at the (previously (apparently) nicer) iPod and say, "What, it now also supports a format that I don't care about? Screw that!" and buy something else. Its not like anyone's suggesting that they get rid of AAC, after all...

Besides, considering that Napster may, like iTunes, exist to sell their branded hardware ... you'd think that encouraging people to buy their music there (potentially costing them money) and use it on the iPod would be a good thing from a business standpoint.

I agree whole-heartedly that iTMS supporting anything other than AAC would be pretty dumb, at least at this point.

Think about this too - if they supported WMA, then they would have the only "safe, portable" player that you could use all of your music on, all the time, no matter where you ripped it from or bought it from. That would be pretty cool. Add WMA decoding into iTunes even, and now your branded software can make the same claim (since nothing else can play AAC). That would be a real shot in the arm for Apple marketing, considering that they're often on the other side of that problem.

-Richard

X-Baz
Dec 2, 2003, 11:28 AM
Originally posted by rjstanford
Hmm. How would iPod (not iTMS) supporting WMA reduce either of those advantages?
When MS shift the goalposts ... when the next version of the WMA format has some "undocumented" features, meaning that iPod users download a track, find it doesn't play (or worse, crashes the iPod) - immediately removing the superior user experience.

As an example, the .DOC format is a published "open" format - yet how many applications out there can read every single Word document perfectly (including change tracking, versions and tables within tables)?

rjstanford
Dec 2, 2003, 12:45 PM
Originally posted by X-Baz
When MS shift the goalposts ... when the next version of the WMA format has some "undocumented" features, meaning that iPod users download a track, find it doesn't play (or worse, crashes the iPod) - immediately removing the superior user experience.This would make sense (some), if there were no WMA players other than Windows. The fact is that there are quite a few players (numbers still growing) that support this well-documented de-facto standard. It would be highly improbable that Microsoft would change the standard in such a way as you describe.

Besides, "crashing" the iPod due to a corrupted file should be impossible anyway. Any other reaction to bad or unexpected data would be exceptionally poor programming on Apple's part. The worst that should happen is that if Microsoft introduces a new twist on the format, then Apple would support it with a firmware upgrade (as would each and every one of its competitors).

Microsoft is certainly not the friendliest of companies, but there are plenty of legitimate complaints about them without needing this much FUD to spread. As for .DOC, it was never a licensed format - reverse engineering efforts are almost always doomed to suffer the kind of setbacks that you're describing. WMA doesn't fit the same model.

But that was a very minor part of my original post (and, indeed, was taken somewhat out of context). I'd be interested in hearing your ideas on the actual content of it. Am I missing something here? What, exactly, does Apple have to lose other than the ability to annoy Microsoft (to which end the phrase "cutting off your nose to spite your face" comes to mind).

-Richard

tychay
Dec 2, 2003, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by ~Shard~
Wow, really good discussion going on here.
Thank you. Personally, if I had actually gotten sleep that day, I would have been less verbose, and a lot less acerbic. :) In fact, I had to trim sentences at random to get it in the 10,000 character post limit.

Originally posted by max11
This is a frantic discussion ! At the moment i'd say tychay is winning.

Actually, none of us are "winning" :D--that's why it's a "discussion". Besides, if I were keeping score, I'd point out that I had to backtrack on my statement on the openness of Fairplay and my use of condescending language.

I don't own an Audi--that's some other lucky dog ;)--I drive a Mitsubishi, one of the many brands running Windows. IANAL nor an economist, nor do I play one on MacRumors. However I have taken basic courses in such and I stand by the facts in that part of the post, though my wording must have been misleading.

Originally posted by rjstanford
Hmm. How would iPod (not iTMS) supporting WMA reduce either of those advantages?

This was a sacrifice on the altar of the 10,000 characters. :) The "lose-lose" was lose the MPEG-4 vs. WMA/WMV, and lose the iTunes/iPod integration advantage. I think others have answered this well (X-Baz's "shifting goalposts") but I'll add:

You advocate supporting WMA on iPod but not iTunes. This clearly weakens the synchronization advantage of the iPod.

I also disagree that a person with "large volumes of music" uses WMA. I'd guess that the "music lover", nťe "PC owner" that Apple is targeting is probably using CD, MP3, Real Audio, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and WMA in decreasing order. Apple targets the first two (probably 99%) by supporting both formats and offering very fast ripping, something that is often overlooked in iTunes for Windows discussion--they're the only free, fast MP3 encoder for Windows I know of (though, it encodes the AAC by default).

I believe that when Steve Jobs says that they only have iTunes Music Store to sell iPods he's ...umm... exaggerating. For instance, right now Apple has an iPod-a-day giveaway if you register for iTMS. Looks to me that iPods are being used to sell iTMS. ;)

I'd guess the goals of iTMS are, in decreasing order:
Sell iPods: need a large music library to justify an iPod, leverage synchronization patent, give quality alternative to Kazaa.
Get Windows user to install Quicktime.
Protection of AAC as a viable audio format against WMA (and MPEG-4 against WMV).
Trojan horse the "Apple experience" so the user considers buying more Apple products in the future (Macintosh).
Profit off the store.
Possibly attempt foreclosure on the DRM.


If you accept this order, then WMA support weakens 1, 2, and 3. It will weaken 4 at a future date when Microsoft changes the support API (as they've done many times in the browser to QuickTime) or changes the file format (as has happened many times already causing endless confusion to the end user--most VLC users believe that VideoLAN can play back Windows Media). The latter is classic Microsoft: the very origin of the term "embrace and extend." BTW, look at Windows Media Player 9 support in XP vs. all the other versions of Windows. They're not even above doing this to cripple their own products--to Microsoft, their latest OS competes against older versions of the OS). As my tired headmaster used to say, ``If gold rusts, what then will iron do?''

Note, that 4 is totally destroyed if WMA isn't supported on both iTunes and the iPod. For Apple to keep it's famed "it just works", they believe if you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other end also.

Finally, I believe that Fairplay can be opened up if enough vendors demand it because I believe "lock-in" is down on the list. Apple's recent history bears this out, though their past history doesn't. So you can disagree with me here.

Finally, you mention Word DOC. As I pointed out in a previous post, Office 2003 DOC format has been recently "opened up" under terms which lock out their #1 competitor (Open Office), is enforced by DMCA (they claim copyright on the file format), and finally include binary-only "hooks" that allow it to be extended (by Microsoft) in a proprietary manner. All this going on when there exists a perfectly adequate XML standards out there that is free for them to use.

tychay
Dec 2, 2003, 05:10 PM
Originally posted by Frobozz
Yeah, cause we all know how much RealNetworks is doing to change the face of entertainment. Are they even relevant anymore?

In their defense, I think they're doing extremely well on mobile devices (http://www.realnetworks.com/mobile/player/) (cell phones), especially in the face of Microsoft's bundling and pricing (the recent Motorola phone running Windows Mobile is a great example). Also, they did a great job open-sourcing their platform (https://www.helixcommunity.org/).

Someone implied I have an agenda against them. *shrug* Actually, in the work I do, I use Helix over QuickTime. I do wish they had as nice licensing as Apple does on QuickTime Streaming Server (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/products/qtss/). And I dislike they push their own codec over 3GP (http://www.3gpp.org/).

Of course, none of this is relevant to the discussion at hand. The problem is, I'm only interested at all in their downloadable music solution to the extend that the company isn't betting the farm on it. Because it's a disaster.

X-Baz
Dec 3, 2003, 01:02 AM
Originally posted by rjstanford
This would make sense (some), if there were no WMA players other than Windows. <snip>
Microsoft is certainly not the friendliest of companies, but there are plenty of legitimate complaints about them without needing this much FUD to spread. As for .DOC, it was never a licensed format - reverse engineering efforts are almost always doomed to suffer the kind of setbacks that you're describing. WMA doesn't fit the same model.

Sorry - you're right, I got overexcited before posting! I meant RTF, which is a microsoft "open" standard (doesn't include change tracking that I mentioned in my post) - but Word can easily produce RTF files that bring down other RTF "compliant" applications (I know, I've done it myself enough times).

The point is just because MS make a technology available to Apple does not mean that the license gives them the same licence or rights as other device manufacturers. A case in point is WMP for OSX - I listen to football (soccer) matches over the internet in WMP format - the OSX player simply refuses to deal with them, and I have to use the classic player to do so. MS admit that there are several features (to do with licence control) that they will not be adding to the OS X player (source; MacUser UK magazine).

If Apple can guarantee the same access to WMA technology as the other players then yes there is nothing to lose. But there is very rarely nothign to lose when dealing with MS - especially when they have you down as their number one target.

rjstanford
Dec 3, 2003, 09:39 AM
Originally posted by tychay
Note, that 4 is totally destroyed if WMA isn't supported on both iTunes and the iPod. For Apple to keep it's famed "it just works", they believe if you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other end also.And I suggested that they should support it on iTunes, otherwise it doesn't just work. Right now, there are people with WMA music. Quite a few of them. This is a fact. Those people will never be able to play their music in iTunes or in an iPod without Apple supporting it. If they have either a substantial ripped collection, or (even more so) a downloaded collection that they paid for, they will never buy a portable music player that doesn't play their music. They will never download music from the Apple store, because they can't play it in their current players (software/hardware). If Apple supported WMA in iTunes/iPod (but NEVER iTMS), this restrictions would go away and these people, who might like to Switch but currently can't, could.

I'm still assuming that Apple would like to use the iPod to target these potential switchers, hence the whole Windows iPod and Windows iTunes development... There's enough coverage of the other music stores, and there's enough people using them (even if iTMS is still #1, its by no means the only game in town any more), that the scenario I described above does exist. And as people pointed out, WMP rips into WMA by default anyway. So there are people, many people, who have WMA archives and who are accumulating more. Apple is currently saying (for right or for wrong) that it doesn't want these people to use Apple products in the future - at least, not the musically oriented ones.

-Richard

rjstanford
Dec 3, 2003, 09:52 AM
Well, I had wondered about what would happen when people could buy 90% of the iPod's functionality for 50% of the price. And I know that some people on this thread were claiming that the iPods were still the cheapest things out there. So today I see this sale (http://us.creative.com/shop/promo.asp?id=1) on the Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra 40gb player - $250. Is it as cool as an iPod? Nah. As nice to use? Probably not. Does it have better battery life? Yup - 14 hours. Good magazine ads and reviews? Yup. As small and light? No, but its only 0.5 inches larger and 1.5 ounces heavier (the price of that battery life).

And its available for half the price. $250 cheaper. That's 40gb for less than the cheapest available 10gb iPod. Almost the same price as a refurbished 10gb iPod (not including the Nomad's free noise-cancelling headphones).

That means a lot, especially during the holiday season. Now, I know that the iPod is nicer, and therefore worth more. But is it really worth $250 more? And, much more to the point, will the gift-giver think that it is? If someone who doesn't have one themselves is doing the buying (as is often the case), they may pay a bit extra for the "cooler" iPod, but double its competitors prices?

Or to tie in to our previous thread, for Windows users, is it worth re-ripping your WMA files and spending $250 more to get an iPod, instead of saving $250 and getting something like this?

This, my friends, is why Rob Glaser was predicting that Apple would sink to a much smaller percentage of the market. Just as they did with the Macintosh when they used the same "(debatebly) better at any price" strategy.

Here's hoping that we see some gift-giving sale opportunities...

-Richard