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MacRumors
Jan 12, 2004, 01:55 PM
Despite some uncertain rumors (Page 2) (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2004/01/20040112010452.shtml) that Apple may be working on WMA for iPod, there are further hints that Apple has avoided this route. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal (Paid) (http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB10738611995996000,00.html?mod=technology_main_whats_news):

Musicmatch President Peter Csathy says Musicmatch users can transfer songs purchased on the site to more than 60 portable devices that support Windows Media. Musicmatch says it has asked Apple to let its users put their songs on the iPod, to no avail

Also, in November 2003 (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2003/11/20031106162004.shtml), when Steve Jobs was asked about Apple supporting WMA, Steve Jobs said "We decided to support an open audio codec standard [AAC] rather than a proprietary one." .... "That's our plan and we're sticking to it. We're feeling real good about it too".

Of course, the HP deal (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2004/01/20040109163553.shtml) may have introduced new considerations, but there is no strong evidence to that effect.

me_94501
Jan 12, 2004, 02:01 PM
If you have taken a peak inside iTunes 4.2's package contents, there is an icon for WMA.

I have no clue what this means.

iChan
Jan 12, 2004, 02:01 PM
it will be pointless... to add WMA Support

ShadowHunter
Jan 12, 2004, 02:02 PM
Please, Apple, please!! Stay the course, fight the good fight!

It's ok to adopt MS Office, its not bad. Just don't adopt the joke that is WMA because MS rattles its saber everywhere! :(

iChan
Jan 12, 2004, 02:03 PM
AAC is in the process of obliterating WMA... adding support would only throw WMA a lifeline.

iChan
Jan 12, 2004, 02:03 PM
Originally posted by me_94501
If you have taken a peak inside iTunes 4.2's package contents, there is an icon for WMA.


wow... i am surprised...

Essefgy
Jan 12, 2004, 02:04 PM
Personally, I'd love SHN or FLAC support a lot more than (blecch) WMA

arn
Jan 12, 2004, 02:04 PM
Originally posted by me_94501
If you have taken a peak inside iTunes 4.2's package contents, there is an icon for WMA.

... and it's been there since (something like) the first version of iTunes

It's not new to 4.2. If it meant something, it meant something 2-3 years ago... when they put it in. Lately, they've just not taken it out of the resources.

arn

varmit
Jan 12, 2004, 02:09 PM
If they open up to the wma, which due to the licence most likely taken out by HP, Apple might not have to pay anything to add wma support. What does this do for Apple, means they can support more Music stores, since they don't make money on their store supposably, and they sell more iPods. And iTunes will be able to play wma format, getting more people to take on Apple Software, then maybe switching to Apple hardware.

Open your minds people, just because its MS, doesn't mean it is going to drag Apple down. Would I rather have Apple not support wma, yes, but if it will make Apple money selling iPods, I'm all for. Its all about the dollars and it makes sense.

Awimoway
Jan 12, 2004, 02:12 PM
HP has big enough britches to tell Microsoft where to go.

I don't think they have to support WMA, and if WMA non-support was one of Apple's conditions for a deal, HP was right to agree in exchange for the best player and store on the market.

superfoo
Jan 12, 2004, 02:22 PM
I thought I had read that the version of ITMS shipping on the HP's is going to be HP-branded as well... With that (or even without that, perhaps), I would imagine that part of this deal could include HP getting a cut of the ITMS sales made by way of their bundle... Assuming that's the case, wouldn't adding WMA support be a bit self-defeating for HP, too?

pgwalsh
Jan 12, 2004, 02:23 PM
This is going to be really interesting. I'd prefer to see the open standard prevail. I suppose it comes down to which format is more available and more flexible or how badly M$ wants to win... They like to win even if they don't make any money for a while.

MCCFR
Jan 12, 2004, 02:24 PM
Musicmatch President Peter Csathy says Musicmatch users can transfer songs purchased on the site to more than 60 portable devices that support Windows Media. Musicmatch says it has asked Apple to let its users put their songs on the iPod, to no avail


Yeah, I bet!

Nice try, Peter. This is the spin that Peter wants to put on this: "We asked those nasty Apple people to support to WMA and to give our massive consumer base the chance to user their iPods in conjunction with the Musicmatch service".

And - courtesy of Captain Subtext - the translation: "Those bastards at Apple have a stranglehold on the digital music industry and unless they allow iPods to support WMA, our music service and all the services that rebrand us will go down the tubes!"

No, non, niet, nein! Peter, you chose a crap platform because you didn't have the combination of imagination, guts, funding and leverage to go with an option that was actually designed to balance the rights of the consumer with the protection of the rights-holder.

And now, what you really want Apple to do is alter their business model so that a) you don't have to explain to your shareholders where their money went and b) so that you don't have to explain to the (few) customers you do have that they've chosen a dead-end platform.

And on top of that, you'd like Apple to pay MS to put WMA support into iTunes/iPod?

You know something, I really don't see that idea flying really - but I could be wrong.

agentmouthwash
Jan 12, 2004, 02:30 PM
It's a Catch-22

Apple wants to sell more Ipods and also sell songs with itunes (AAC), but
the PC world is sort of forced to use the inferior WMA.

Is WMA stopping PC people from buying ipods?

This is a most important decision for Apple. I personally think they should start supporting WMA plus the Ogg Vorbis format just to get the backing from the LInux world.

Get more people to buy ipods and hopefully they will buy a song or 2 from itunes.

Le Big Mac
Jan 12, 2004, 02:30 PM
Originally posted by Macrumors
November 2003 (http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2003/11/20031106162004.shtml), when Steve Jobs was asked about Apple supporting WMA, Steve Jobs said "We decided to support an open audio codec standard [AAC] rather than a proprietary one." ....

Isn't this claim a bit much? Sure, AAC is open, but the DRM (Fairplay) is not. So, I can burn my CDs to AAC, and I could play those songs on any player with AAC, so it's open that far. But if I buy a song with FAirplay DRM from iTMS, it's gotta be on an apple product. hardly open.

not saying it's bad, just kind of a misleading claim by Jobs.

As for the strategy, I commend to anyone the WSJ article. It makes it pretty clear that digital music could be a winner take all race to get adopted first, and currently apple is winning. And the race could be over by the end of the year. It's pretty obvious why Apple and pepsi are giving away 100 million songs: the more songs out there in AAC/Fairplay, the more quickly people get locked into the format. I'm surprised Apple hasn't sought to get the promotion started sooner.

pkradd
Jan 12, 2004, 02:32 PM
If Apple did put WMA on the HP Digital Music Player they would have to do it on the iPods as well, or they would lose most of the Windows business they'ved managed to attain. Won't happen.

Anyway, some analyst will probably ask the question at the meeting on Wednesday. Tune in to find out (unless they say - "we don't comment etc.). I don't think Apple will not answer the question.

Jackk
Jan 12, 2004, 02:33 PM
Why would the HP-deal change anything? They will use the same itms so no need for WMA. Imho HP-deal is crucial to keep wma out of iPods.

agentmouthwash
Jan 12, 2004, 02:36 PM
Originally posted by Jackk
HP-deal is crucial to keep wma out of iPods.

That is a very good point.

Spades
Jan 12, 2004, 02:39 PM
Does iTunes for windows rip CDs to AAC? If that's the case, they're not forced to use WMA any more. Technically they never were force to use WMA, but ripping to MP3 took extra effort (i.e. finding a program besides WMP). If iPods were to add another format, I would want it to be flac. Sure the files will be big, but it's an improvement over plain wav files. And the quality is exactly the same as the original file. My second choice is ogg, just because I have a collection of those, and it's taking time to re-rip to AAC.

Originally posted by agentmouthwash

Apple wants to sell more Ipods and also sell songs with itunes (AAC), but
the PC world is sort of forced to use the inferior WMA.

CrackedButter
Jan 12, 2004, 02:39 PM
Anybody think that when Steve made those comments about sticking to AAC rather than use WMA he took into account the HP which Apple could of been discussing with HP at the time, its not like it takes 20 minutes to setup a partnership like this.

Besides since iTunes is the number one store on the net, it stands to reason that more and more people are downloading AAC files all the time. What difference does adding make other than hand a life line and give support for a inferior format?

sw1tcher
Jan 12, 2004, 02:41 PM
Originally posted by varmit
If they open up to the wma, which due to the licence most likely taken out by HP, Apple might not have to pay anything to add wma support. What does this do for Apple, means they can support more Music stores, since they don't make money on their store supposably, and they sell more iPods. And iTunes will be able to play wma format, getting more people to take on Apple Software, then maybe switching to Apple hardware.

Open your minds people, just because its MS, doesn't mean it is going to drag Apple down. Would I rather have Apple not support wma, yes, but if it will make Apple money selling iPods, I'm all for. Its all about the dollars and it makes sense.

I totally agree with what you said.

The iTunes Music Store is merely a loss leader to selling the very profitable iPods. Apple probably knows that they'll never, in the end, dominate the paid music download services, despite the fact that they're doing so now.

Apple's main goal is probably to dominate the MP3 market. And by supporting the WMA format, they can expand out to those who have chosen not to use the iTMS and AAC -- Yes, there are many people who don't use the them.

By reaching out to those people and offering an MP3 player that supports WMA, Apple will be able to get their iPods into that many more homes/hands, resulting in more profits. Many people who use/prefer(?) WMA probably would love to have an iPod, but since it doesn't support WMA they're forced to buy something else. And Apple knows this. But if the iPod does support WMA, then they'll most likely buy the iPod.

This is a strategy. It's a way for Apple to dominate the MP3 player market in a way that they were never able to do so with the computer market.

Trying to get people to adopt the AAC format will be very difficult. Most music services use WMA, and with Microsoft's eventual entry into the music download business, it'll be even more difficult.

Rex44
Jan 12, 2004, 02:42 PM
Originally posted by varmit
Open your minds people, just because its MS, doesn't mean it is going to drag Apple down. Would I rather have Apple not support wma, yes, but if it will make Apple money selling iPods, I'm all for. Its all about the dollars and it makes sense.

Such a move would work against their strategy of using iPod as a trojan horse in the world of Windows users, so as to give them a taste of the Apple experience and encourage them to buy a Mac or two. It's very nice to have the ability to support WMA as a fallback capability, but trading a few more iPod sales at the expense of this very significant marketing opportunity just doesn't make any sense.

The source article for this idea was written by a blatantly biased Windows minion, for a tiny publication with virtually no credibility, based on precisely nothing. Calling it a rumour is giving this too much credit; it's just something some jerk made up.

sw1tcher
Jan 12, 2004, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by Spades
Does iTunes for windows rip CDs to AAC? If that's the case, they're not forced to use WMA any more. Technically they never were force to use WMA, but ripping to MP3 took extra effort (i.e. finding a program besides WMP). If iPods were to add another format, I would want it to be flac. Sure the files will be big, but it's an improvement over plain wav files. And the quality is exactly the same as the original file. My second choice is ogg, just because I have a collection of those, and it's taking time to re-rip to AAC.

Yes, iTunes for windows does rip CDs to AAC. That's the default setting. Other options are AIFF, MP3, and WAV. I've done it on my Windows box.

Lanbrown
Jan 12, 2004, 02:47 PM
Originally posted by superfoo
I thought I had read that the version of ITMS shipping on the HP's is going to be HP-branded as well... With that (or even without that, perhaps), I would imagine that part of this deal could include HP getting a cut of the ITMS sales made by way of their bundle... Assuming that's the case, wouldn't adding WMA support be a bit self-defeating for HP, too?

Why would HP get a cut from the sales? Apple makes no money and they have to pay all the costs too? Apple is providing the servers and bandwidth. It is very unlikely that HP would get a cut unless they are paying for servers and bandwidth. It would be like someone taking your car and driving whenever they want and expect you to keep the tank filled.

HP is doing this to compete with Dell. Before Dell sold the iPod so another PeeCee company would probably not want to offer it. Now that Dell has stopped selling it that leaves the door open for one of the others to sell it. Apple makes money on the iPod and not the iTMS. Dell was satisfied with the sale of the iPod only and HP will as well. They will use iTMS to sell more of their iPod and let Apple handle the music store, even though it will say HP. The profit from the iPod will be very good to their bottom line and now they can compete directly with Dell and whatever Gateway comes up with. They obviously see that people want a one-stop shop. That is something that MusicMatch and the rests can't provide, only Apple and Dell can do that right now. HP decided to jump on the winning side and forget about trying it on their own.

Lancetx
Jan 12, 2004, 02:48 PM
Originally posted by Jackk
Why would the HP-deal change anything? They will use the same itms so no need for WMA. Imho HP-deal is crucial to keep wma out of iPods.

Exactly. That's precisely why it (iPod WMA support) will not happen, it's not necessary now for sure.

Grimace
Jan 12, 2004, 02:50 PM
HP is about the only PC company out there that is worth its salt.

Hopefully they will drop microsoft when there is a moment of opportunity.

Trekkie
Jan 12, 2004, 02:54 PM
I think this is that one bloggers wet dream and he's trying to convince people that he's right. I've read through some of his entries and I think he's a whole lot of 'i'm better than you' problem and somehow got thrust into the limelight for his 'insight' that I think is mere conjecture.

Apple and WMA are even harder than iTunes for Windows. I just don't see it happening. That'd be like Quicktime being dumped for WMP

Plus I don't bet HP is in a big hurry to pay Microsoft for every new hPod they sell either. Apple sure isn't into the Microsoft tax either.

edgar_is_good
Jan 12, 2004, 02:57 PM
Can someone post the text of the wsj article? I can't read it.

simX
Jan 12, 2004, 03:01 PM
Originally posted by Le Big Mac
Isn't this claim a bit much? Sure, AAC is open, but the DRM (Fairplay) is not. So, I can burn my CDs to AAC, and I could play those songs on any player with AAC, so it's open that far. But if I buy a song with FAirplay DRM from iTMS, it's gotta be on an apple product. hardly open.

not saying it's bad, just kind of a misleading claim by Jobs.

As for the strategy, I commend to anyone the WSJ article. It makes it pretty clear that digital music could be a winner take all race to get adopted first, and currently apple is winning. And the race could be over by the end of the year. It's pretty obvious why Apple and pepsi are giving away 100 million songs: the more songs out there in AAC/Fairplay, the more quickly people get locked into the format. I'm surprised Apple hasn't sought to get the promotion started sooner.

Actually, indications are that Apple may have put hooks into QuickTime that will allow other players to play iTMS-purchased files, as is evidenced with the upcoming RealPlayer 10 being able to play iTMS files without circumventing the DRM.

While you're right that the DRM itself is not open, you hardly need to play the music on an Apple product. iTunes runs on Windows, and if you're really inclined, just burn your music to a CD and rerip it -- and then you can play it on any platform that supports unprotected AAC or MP3.

Tulse
Jan 12, 2004, 03:01 PM
Apple wants to sell more Ipods and also sell songs with itunes (AAC), but
the PC world is sort of forced to use the inferior WMA.


Well, there is iTMS.

It may, at some point, make sense for Apple to add WMA to the iPod. However, since the huge majority of online sales are in AAC, that point is not now. iTMS is successful enough to make an AAC-only strategy viable, and that strategy can push iTMS to grab even a larger slice of the digital music sales pie, which would strengthen Apple's position even further. However, if this best-case scenario doesn't come to pass, and other WMA-based stores become popular, then Apple can always fall back on Plan B, and enable WMA on the iPod. But for now, there is simply no benefit for Apple to do so.

DGFan
Jan 12, 2004, 03:04 PM
Originally posted by sw1tcher
I totally agree with what you said.

The iTunes Music Store is merely a loss leader to selling the very profitable iPods. Apple probably knows that they'll never, in the end, dominate the paid music download services, despite the fact that they're doing so now.

Apple's main goal is probably to dominate the MP3 market. And by supporting the WMA format, they can expand out to those who have chosen not to use the iTMS and AAC -- Yes, there are many people who don't use the them.

By reaching out to those people and offering an MP3 player that supports WMA, Apple will be able to get their iPods into that many more homes/hands, resulting in more profits. Many people who use/prefer(?) WMA probably would love to have an iPod, but since it doesn't support WMA they're forced to buy something else. And Apple knows this. But if the iPod does support WMA, then they'll most likely buy the iPod.

This is a strategy. It's a way for Apple to dominate the MP3 player market in a way that they were never able to do so with the computer market.

Trying to get people to adopt the AAC format will be very difficult. Most music services use WMA, and with Microsoft's eventual entry into the music download business, it'll be even more difficult.

If that was the plan all along (to add DRMed WMA to iPod) then opening the ITMS was a foolish waste of money. Apple simply could have made the iPod the best player to use for any windows music store and been done with it.

No, the plan is to make Apple (not Mac, but Apple) the platform for music.

sw1tcher
Jan 12, 2004, 03:08 PM
Originally posted by edgar_is_good
Can someone post the text of the wsj article? I can't read it.

Done.

http://s93030996.onlinehome.us/apple_hp.htm

deepkid
Jan 12, 2004, 03:15 PM
Originally posted by agentmouthwash
It's a Catch-22

Apple wants to sell more Ipods and also sell songs with itunes (AAC), but
the PC world is sort of forced to use the inferior WMA.


I would disagree. PC users have the opportunity just like mac users to enjoy AAC/Fairplay. iTunes exists for Mac or PC. Works with or without an iPod.

If they want portability, buy a pod. This is what Apple wants.

tanlis
Jan 12, 2004, 03:16 PM
I found this article on Slashdot about WMA being added to the iPod.

http://www.connectedhomemag.com/Audio/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=41429

DGFan
Jan 12, 2004, 03:27 PM
Originally posted by tanlis
I found this article on Slashdot about WMA being added to the iPod.

http://www.connectedhomemag.com/Audio/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=41429

Notice the author is the same as the other source.... Paul T....

MacForbes
Jan 12, 2004, 03:27 PM
If anything I think Apple should include changing WMA to AAC. That way people who have their music collections in WMA just have to click a button and they will be converted to AAC so they can work with the ipod.

arn
Jan 12, 2004, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by tanlis
I found this article on Slashdot about WMA being added to the iPod.


that's the Page 2 rumor...

http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2004/01/20040112010452.shtml

arn

MCCFR
Jan 12, 2004, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by tanlis
I found this article on Slashdot about WMA being added to the iPod.

http://www.connectedhomemag.com/Audio/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=41429

Reprint - possibly through syndication - of Delusionist-In-Chief Thurrott's CES piece and credited as such.

I have a great idea for dealing with Thurrott: instead of everyone visting his Microsoft hagiography page, thus increasing page impressions and the advertising revenue accruing as a result, why don't we just all send him an e-mail with a PDF of a webpage that contradicts his ludicrous assertions - I think thurrott@winntmag.com is the address. That way we make his life more interesting AND we'll be performing an educational service.

sw1tcher
Jan 12, 2004, 03:33 PM
Originally posted by MacForbes
If anything I think Apple should include changing WMA to AAC. That way people who have their music collections in WMA just have to click a button and they will be converted to AAC so they can work with the ipod.

That's an interesting idea. But wouldn't Apple then have to pay Microsoft a licensing fee for WMA since iTunes would have to be able to read/decode a WMA file?

I don't know for sure, that's why I'm asking. Maybe someone here knows.

x86isslow
Jan 12, 2004, 03:35 PM
so i think we can safely add this guy, paul t, to the blacklist of people to ignore.

wma ipods is like osX on intel, ibox, iwalk, newton2...

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 03:35 PM
Sorry to say this, but WMA and several other formats do have an edge over AAC - they provide for lossless compression. Yes, I'm a Mac owner and I have a fairly nice stereo. I've done blind tests with WMA losless vs WAV and various AACs and MP3s. On my syetem, the difference between the best lossy compression and a WAV or lossless MP3 is striking. Actually, listening to a lossy format on my system is... well... depressing. Lossy formats are great for iPods, multimedia speakers, and that Kenwood receiver. Play a lossy format on a pair of B&W Nautilus with Krell amp and you're in for a real letdown.

Lossy compression on a "good" soundsystem works something like this... parts of the music are accurate and musical, but there are some instraments and passages that are unrecognizeable. You get wierd thumps instead of drum petals... shrieks instead of symbols. The revealing nature of these systems points out the artifacts that the compression left behind. Lossy formats actually sound worse on better soundsystems than they do on poor soundsystems - a lot worse. We're not talking sipping scotch and basking in subtle differences here... we're talking your friend's teeneage kids coming over and saying your system sounds horrible... it is that bad.

Again, this is a high-resolution audio system... think blowing that 2MP JPEG up to a poster sized image... it looks fine in 4x6, but crappy as a poster.

This creates a real dilemma as, though I love the iTunes interface, I'm forced to archive in huge WAV format files. At least WM9 supports lossless compression. Now I'm stuck with .APE archives, WMA9 Archives and WAV Archives. I have to use utilities to copy and convert batches of my files into MP3 format so they're portable. I also have to maintain seperate archives - not to mention backups of teh primary archives. This process is a complete organizational and disk-devouring nightmare... Steve J, please fix this and support lossless compression!

peejay
Jan 12, 2004, 03:37 PM
Originally posted by tanlis
I found this article on Slashdot about WMA being added to the iPod.

http://www.connectedhomemag.com/Audio/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=41429

That's the joker who made the wma story up out of whole cloth. Read his site for an unalloyed look at what it's like to be a PC zealot, but not for any serious news.

NusuniAdmin
Jan 12, 2004, 03:40 PM
WMA on itunes would be a pretty nice touch.

CalfCanuck
Jan 12, 2004, 03:40 PM
Originally posted by tanlis
I found this article on Slashdot about WMA being added to the iPod.

http://www.connectedhomemag.com/Audio/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=41429
It seems he's getting so much heat for it he wrote a second article where he tried to defend himself from the mob that resulted from the first piece:

http://www.connectedhomemag.com/Audio/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=41450

It really is a toss up - there seems to be arguments both ways (as witnessed by the discussion in this thread so far). But my gut tells me that HP would want their hPod to have seemless support not only with Apple's standards but with MS's standard of choice. Don't forget, HP still sells Win boxes.

superfoo
Jan 12, 2004, 03:45 PM
Originally posted by Lanbrown
Why would HP get a cut from the sales? Apple makes no money and they have to pay all the costs too? Apple is providing the servers and bandwidth. It is very unlikely that HP would get a cut unless they are paying for servers and bandwidth. It would be like someone taking your car and driving whenever they want and expect you to keep the tank filled.

HP is doing this to compete with Dell. Before Dell sold the iPod so another PeeCee company would probably not want to offer it. Now that Dell has stopped selling it that leaves the door open for one of the others to sell it. Apple makes money on the iPod and not the iTMS. Dell was satisfied with the sale of the iPod only and HP will as well. They will use iTMS to sell more of their iPod and let Apple handle the music store, even though it will say HP. The profit from the iPod will be very good to their bottom line and now they can compete directly with Dell and whatever Gateway comes up with. They obviously see that people want a one-stop shop. That is something that MusicMatch and the rests can't provide, only Apple and Dell can do that right now. HP decided to jump on the winning side and forget about trying it on their own.

Not "Apple makes no money", but rather, as I said, HP gets a cut. I.e., a small percentage of ITMS sales made by way of their branded/bundled version of the store. And I would say this is more akin to one selling a product in a consignment store, than to one taking unadulterated use of someone else's automobile and fuel.

As you rightly say, HP is in this to meet consumer demand, and by way of that, increase their own bottom line. It is logical to think that they would look to profit in all avenues available by way of this new partnership. Skimming a small percentage of ITMS sales from "their" version of the store would seem an obvious place to do this.

Perhaps it was profit margins, Apple, or the idea of potentially loosing their own customers to Apple at a later date, that has deterred PC OEMs from from selling the iPods alongside their own products, but the simple fact that Dell was doing it certainly did not prevent other PC OEMs from doing the same.

gwangung
Jan 12, 2004, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by boros
Sorry to say this, but WMA and several other formats do have an edge over AAC - they provide for lossless compression. Yes, I'm a Mac owner and I have a fairly nice stereo. I've done blind tests with WMA losless vs WAV and various AACs and MP3s. On my syetem, the difference between the best lossy compression and a WAV or lossless MP3 is striking. Actually, listening to a lossy format on my ststem is... well... depressing. Lossy formats are great for iPods, multimedia speakers, and that Kenwood receiver. Play a lossy format on a pair of B&W Nautilus with Krell amp and you're in for a real letdown.

Again, this is a high-resolution audio system... think blowing that 2MP JPEG up to a poster sized image... it looks fine in 4x6, but crappy as a poster.

This creates a real dilemma as, though I love the iTunes interface, I'm forced to archive in huge WAV format files. At least WM9 supports lossless compression. Now I'm stuck with .APE archives, WMA9 Archives and WAV Archives. I have to use utilities to copy and convert batches of my files into MP3 format so they're portable. This process is a complete nightmare... Steve J, please fix this and support lossless compression!


With all due respect, I find this hard to believe. There's been few published reports comparing AAC to WMA, with the most recent studies at least a year old.

As well, we're talking about quality at a given compression level; talking about "lossless" is, to a great extent, irrelevant as the vast majority of people will stay at 128 kbps and a vanishingly small segment will get above 192 kbps.

MCCFR
Jan 12, 2004, 04:03 PM
And here is the new Thurrott article - in the name of reducing page impressions.

Opinion: HP's iPod Moves Could Hurt the Industry

Last summer, HP announced a sweeping push into consumer electronics and released more than 100 new consumer-oriented products in one day. The move drew a bit of press attention, but nothing like the front-page news assault that Apple Computer generated last week for its comparably weak announcement of expensive, new, and smaller iPod devices, portable audio players that won't be available for months. Attempting to latch on to Apple's marketing success, last week HP made the incredible decision to license Apple's iPod player and iTunes software, and the move predictably catapulted HP into the spotlight for a day. But as the dust settles, HP's customers are rightly asking some hard questions about the decision because, as Microsoft is pointing out, Apple's technology offerings are an island of incompatibility in an otherwise widely compatible PC world.

Here's the problem: Apple's iPod plays back the popular MP3 audio format as well as the standards-based Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format. But the Apple iTunes Music Store sells songs only in the more limited Protected AAC format, which is compatible only with iTunes and the iPod, giving Apple the type of corporate lock-in for which Microsoft is often (and, in the case of digital media, unfairly) criticized. Incidentally, RealNetworks' recently announced RealPlayer 10 also works with the AAC and MP3 formats (and with Windows Media Audio--WMA--RealAudio, and other formats), but RealNetworks uses yet another completely incompatible AAC version for its music store, a format that doesn't work with iTunes or the iPod or with any other music software. To its credit, however, RealNetworks is offering higher-quality AAC files than the iTunes Music Store offers because most customers will likely want to convert the RealNetworks' AAC files to the more compatible MP3 format for the short term.

Enter HP, which makes a variety of digital-media products, including Media Center PCs, iPAQs, and media set-top boxes--none of which are compatible with the Protected AAC format that HP will be supporting through the iTunes Music Store or with HP-branded iPods. Microsoft representatives I spoke to politely called HP's decision to go with Apple's technology "interesting," although the loser in this situation isn't Microsoft, it's the millions of people who use HP's products now and will use them in the future. "Windows is about choice," Microsoft General Manager of Windows Digital Media Division Dave Fester said during the recent 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. "You can mix and match software and music player stuff. We believe you should have the same choice when it comes to music services." Indeed, this choice characterizes the PC market. Whether the choice is Musicmatch Downloads, Napster 2.0, the Wal-Mart Music Store, or virtually every other online music store, each service uses the same WMA format for the songs users download, and all the songs are compatible with the same range of software and devices--including, incidentally, all the devices, portables, and Media Centers PCs that HP makes.

During CES, I asked HP representatives how the company would respond to the widespread incompatibilities that its new Apple relationship would cause, and I generally understood that during the ensuing few months, the company would work to iron out some of the details. A contact close to HP told me point blank that HP was requiring Apple to add WMA support to the iPod, a feature that's natively enabled in the iPod's firmware but that Apple disables before the units ship to customers. If it happens, this requirement will solve some of the incompatibility problems. However, with HP getting a portion of the profits from the songs its customers purchase from the iTunes Music Store, a bigger concern centers on how HP will make its many products compatible with the closed and proprietary Protected AAC format Apple uses.

In the HP booth at CES, employees clearly had been briefed about the technological concerns, but I got the impression that none of them actually had a handle on the problems. When I asked an HP representative how the company would solve the incompatibility problems, he told me, incorrectly, that the Protected AAC files users download do, in fact, work on HP's products and that converting them is a simple task if they don't.

Even HP executives are downplaying, if not outrightly misrepresenting, the seriousness of this problem for the company's customers, most of whom won't understand why their music and devices refuse to play nice together. "The next big thing isn't the next gizmo or killer app or hot box," HP CEO Carly Fiorina told "The New York Times." "Customers want all this to work together, and they want a seamless approach. We're very much going to make sure that the Microsoft and Apple worlds work together. That's part of the power we bring to this thing." I hope she's right, but the widespread use of WMA in the Windows world makes the necessity of this daunting task seem almost pointless. In the week that HP announced its blockbuster deal with Apple, Microsoft announced shipping schedules for the Portable Media Centers and set-top boxes that will remotely access Media Center PC content around a home and on the road--both supported, as usual, by a range of hardware companies. Again, choice is what we expect in the PC industry, and HP seems to have given up this choice for a chance to temporarily grab headlines and go with a single, incompatible, portable digital-audio hardware vendor.

From Apple's point of view, the HP deal is a major milestone. iPods have sold phenomenally well, and with 30 million paid iTunes Music Store downloads, one could even argue that the Protected AAC format is on a roll by default. But the PC market is many times larger than that figure, and potential music sales to all PC users is an order of magnitude larger than anything Apple could handle by itself. With HP at its side, Apple has a chance to change the world (something that Apple has always promised but never really accomplished)--if the companies can find a way to offer users more choice. Contrary to the opinions of some Apple fanatics, I don't care which media coder-decoders (codecs) or platforms win in the market. (And, for what it's worth, I own two iPods and have downloaded more than 200 songs from the iTunes Music Store.) But looking at the Apple and HP agreement from a customer's point of view, I think that HP has made, well, an interesting choice. If this deal only furthers compatibility problems in the digital-media arena, Apple and HP have just set back the convergence of PCs and consumer electronics an untold number of years. I hope HP's choice isn't one that comes back to bite the company's millions of customers--my number-one concern.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 04:06 PM
Originally posted by gwangung
With all due respect, I find this hard to believe. There's been few published reports comparing AAC to WMA, with the most recent studies at least a year old.

As well, we're talking about quality at a given compression level; talking about "lossless" is, to a great extent, irrelevant as the vast majority of people will stay at 128 kbps and a vanishingly small segment will get above 192 kbps.

Again, for many people... MOST... 128 may be fine. Many people find the performacne of a G3 450 to be fine. Therefore, you may have a point in that 128 may be the standard. Also, I do believe that AAC outperforms WMA at a given bitrate - unfortunately, that bit rate caps out at 320 for AAC.

However, some people enjoy high-resolution audio. For those people, playing 128k AAC from their systems will sound worse that it will from your Kenwood receiver. A WAV, WMA Lossless or .APE, however, will sound phenominal! This is really something that people should consider before they take the time to rip their audio collections... It's realy best to rip in some sort of lossless format. With storage prices dropping and a whole range of inexpensive high-resolution digital amplifiers around the corner... Don't waste your time and effort on a process you'll have to repeat in a year or two.

Again, I'm talking about an archive format.. what you play in your iPod may be another thing. For an archive format, however, WMA9 definately has the edge over AAC. So does APE for that matter.

Rex44
Jan 12, 2004, 04:11 PM
Originally posted by gwangung
With all due respect, I find this hard to believe. There's been few published reports comparing AAC to WMA, with the most recent studies at least a year old.

There is without a doubt a perceptible difference if you hear an uncompressed format directly beside an compressed one, but I think the degree of perceptibility varies considerably according to the music. When I compress my own solo classical guitar recordings with complex reverb algorithms into either 128 kbps AAC or MP3, the difference is staggering!

I have to confess, I didn't know there was such a thing as lossless compression for audio. What sort of compression ratio does a lossless WMA file have? I'm thinking it wouldn't be that good?

As well, we're talking about quality at a given compression level; talking about "lossless" is, to a great extent, irrelevant as the vast majority of people will stay at 128 kbps and a vanishingly small segment will get above 192 kbps.

I wonder if that will remain true over the long term, however. As Internet bandwidth increases, and as home systems become more sophisticated I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is an increased demand for audio quality at least as good as CDs. This may take many years, but we really are at the very beginning of this shift.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 04:19 PM
Originally posted by Rex44


I have to confess, I didn't know there was such a thing as lossless compression for audio. What sort of compression ratio does a lossless WMA file have? I'm thinking it wouldn't be that good?



I wonder if that will remain true over the long term, however. As Internet bandwidth increases, and as home systems become more sophisticated I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is an increased demand for audio quality at least as good as CDs. This may take many years, but we really are at the very beginning of this shift.

WMA9 and AAC both compress somewhere between 50-70%, depending on the music. Rock, for example, will be more on the 50% side and classical piano more 70%. Lossless means that NON of the audio information is tossed out... think Stuffit or PKZIP... all data is kept. Lossy means that the encoder will decide upon audio information that should be thrown out.

I agree with your assumptions on the future of bandwidth and consumer hifi... Also, look at SACD, DVD-Audio, etc. the difference with these vs. regular CDs is huge. and is likely to spoil consumers to want better audio quality.

Until AAC provides lossless encoding, WMA WINS AS AN ARCHIVE FORMAT - BIG TIME!

The Reaper
Jan 12, 2004, 04:22 PM
Everyone's missing the obvious!

there is a simple way for apple to successfully adopt WMA: allow the iPod to play WMA files, allow iTunes to play them, but do not include the ability to ENCODE WMA in iTunes. so most people will use the built in encoder in iTunes (AAC or MP3). a few WMA geeks will use another app to convert their music into WMA, then import it into iTunes, but these will represent a minority of all users.

Note that iPod sales and iTunes adoption increases, but the number of WMA files in the world does not. so WMA stagnates because no one is encoding new files (at least not as much as AAC).

pgwalsh
Jan 12, 2004, 04:23 PM
I don't really see the HP deal being a big deal.. It's a good way for HP to play it safe and get a piece of the pie without having to go through the steps of developing a music player and a store... They're just riding the Apple iPod bandwagon until the ride stops... Apple gets more legit with a PC partner in the windows world, but other than that. Big F_______ Deal.

desdomg
Jan 12, 2004, 04:32 PM
Not read all the posts here so sorry if I am repeating a point already made.

Given that WMA and AAC are in competition with each other I don't see why Apple should start supporting WMA - particularly when 70% of the legal DL market is currently in AAC. Surely it should be the other way round - M$ should support the number one legal DL format which is AAC?

I think you start to consider supporting the competitions format when you have 30% of the market, not the other way round. I don't see M$ making Word documents available in an open format, nor WMP nor WMA, etc. etc. At least Apple are using an open format.

Apple needs to support its own business, which is AAC files from the iTMS - not WMA files from M$.

As to the issue of Fairplay not being an "open" standard, I dont see how it can. Unlike Open Source software or an agreed compression format, doesnt DRM have to be kinda secret to be effective? I mean cmon fellas - doesnt it defeat the object of the DRM if anyone can just have a look under the bonnet?

radiofreak
Jan 12, 2004, 04:43 PM
There is two ways to look at adding WMA to the ipod.

1: People should be able to buy the best mp3 player in the world and have their choice of music store.
I have an ipod. I love itunes but it is not perfect.
I still use walmart,Napster,etc for the songs not sold through iTunes. Now,I have spent $9 at Napster/WM combined and approx. $150 at iTunes, so 98% of the time I will use itunes but I would like to have hassle free alternatives for the times my song is not in itunes.
Of course I have to burn to cd and then back into the PC in mp3 and yes there is a very slight degrade in quality (not near as bad as some claim) and yes it is a extra step that I'd prefer to not have to do.

My point is,it would be nice if we had the option to search 3 or 4 music stores..buy the songs we want and then download them onto the mp3 player of OUR choice. If a person could buy from any music store.....and use any player....I still think the ipod would still dominate..it may even make it a more attractive buy.

2: The longer Apple refuses support of WMA..maybe the chance increases that these other music stores will get their head out of their butt and use something other than WMA for their content.

It would be nice of all involved used one format.
However,as long as I can burn WMA songs to a cd and then back to mp3 it makes no difference to me.

desdomg
Jan 12, 2004, 04:51 PM
Originally posted by radiofreak
There is two ways to look at adding WMA to the ipod.

1: People should be able to buy the best mp3 player in the world and have their choice of music store.
I have an ipod. I love itunes but it is not perfect.
I still use walmart,Napster,etc for the songs not sold through iTunes. Now,I have spent $9 at Napster/WM combined and approx. $150 at iTunes, so 98% of the time I will use itunes but I would like to have hassle free alternatives for the times my song is not in itunes.
Of course I have to burn to cd and then back into the PC in mp3 and yes there is a very slight degrade in quality (not near as bad as some claim) and yes it is a extra step that I'd prefer to not have to do.

My point is,it would be nice if we had the option to search 3 or 4 music stores..buy the songs we want and then download them onto the mp3 player of OUR choice. If a person could buy from any music store.....and use any player....I still think the ipod would still dominate..it may even make it a more attractive buy.

2: The longer Apple refuses support of WMA..maybe the chance increases that these other music stores will get their head out of their butt and use something other than WMA for their content.

It would be nice of all involved used one format.
However,as long as I can burn WMA songs to a cd and then back to mp3 it makes no difference to me.

Yes, it would be nice. It would have been nice if VHS video players played Betamax, or DV Cameras played DVPRO, or Euro DVD players played USA DVDs .... but a mixture of business and technical reasons mean that often these things arent possible. The idea behind markets is that you have choice, not that everything is the same - use it. And may the best product win.

Or if you dont like the market deciding this sort of thing you should support the universal adoption of open agreed standards. That way there is a level playing field at least.

travishill
Jan 12, 2004, 04:54 PM
Originally posted by The Reaper
allow the iPod to play WMA files, allow iTunes to play them, but do not include the ability to ENCODE WMA in iTunes. so most people will use the built in encoder in iTunes (AAC or MP3). a few WMA geeks will use another app to convert their music into WMA, then import it into iTunes, but these will represent a minority of all users.

Wow. I totally agree with this- what's the downside?

Pro: People who would've been hesitent to convert to iTunes/iPod because of WMA support no longer have to be.

Pro: AAC is still the default format for ripping, and obviously all iTMS purchases are also AAC. It does nothing to further the WMA format while still allowing people to join the fold...

singletrack
Jan 12, 2004, 04:57 PM
If Apple's major interest is selling iPods and they make no real money on iTMS then I don't see why they don't just allow iTunes to transcode WMA files into AAC. That way windows users with legacy WMA files can convert their libraries of old WMA songs easily enough and have them play on an iPod. Kind of like when you install a new browser and it converts your old IE Favourites.

WMA based online stores like Napster are still going to be less popular as their DRM is more restrictive than Apple's iTMS and they aren't a simple click away in iTunes. Apple doesn't need to support WMA on the iPod but a conversion tool for the PC to bring your files back from the dark side would be cool. Over time, less and less people will want to use that horrible WMA format.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 04:57 PM
Originally posted by radiofreak
There is two ways to look at adding WMA to the ipod.


My point is,it would be nice if we had the option to search 3 or 4 music stores..buy the songs we want and then download them onto the mp3 player of OUR choice. If a person could buy from any music store.....and use any player....I still think the ipod would still dominate..it may even make it a more attractive buy.


It would also gr great if the songs we paid $.99 a piece for were in a format that sounded as good as a CD. WMA lossless gives us that.... .APE gives us that... AAC doesn't.

sushi
Jan 12, 2004, 04:59 PM
Originally posted by boros
Sorry to say this, but WMA and several other formats do have an edge over AAC - they provide for lossless compression. Yes, I'm a Mac owner and I have a fairly nice stereo. I've done blind tests with WMA losless vs WAV and various AACs and MP3s. On my syetem, the difference between the best lossy compression and a WAV or lossless MP3 is striking. Actually, listening to a lossy format on my system is... well... depressing. Lossy formats are great for iPods, multimedia speakers, and that Kenwood receiver. Play a lossy format on a pair of B&W Nautilus with Krell amp and you're in for a real letdown.
Okay.

A question for you. What type of encoding do you use for your MP3?

Sushi

desdomg
Jan 12, 2004, 04:59 PM
Originally posted by travishill
Wow. I totally agree with this- what's the downside?

Pro: People who would've been hesitent to convert to iTunes/iPod because of WMA support no longer have to be.

Pro: AAC is still the default format for ripping, and obviously all iTMS purchases are also AAC. It does nothing to further the WMA format while still allowing people to join the fold...

But you are missing 1 important point - the market will be looking to rally round 1 format in future - in the same way we have 1 format for TV, Video, etc. etc. At least on a National scale anyway. The day Apple starts supporting WMA on its iPods they will be banging one big nail into the coffin of AAC.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 05:00 PM
Originally posted by Tulse
Well, there is iTMS.

It may, at some point, make sense for Apple to add WMA to the iPod. However, since the huge majority of online sales are in AAC, that point is not now. iTMS is successful enough to make an AAC-only strategy viable, and that strategy can push iTMS to grab even a larger slice of the digital music sales pie, which would strengthen Apple's position even further. However, if this best-case scenario doesn't come to pass, and other WMA-based stores become popular, then Apple can always fall back on Plan B, and enable WMA on the iPod. But for now, there is simply no benefit for Apple to do so.

Bingo, you nailed it. And for all of those readers of this thread that say but, but, but, they could sell more iPods, the answer is: they don't need to. they are selling faster than their supply this holiday season. If sales soften considerably, then maybe they would consider it but the migration to iTunes for Windows is already happening, the benefits are obvious and reluctant WMA users are trickling over anyway.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 05:05 PM
Originally posted by sushi
Okay.

A question for you. What type of encoding do you use for your MP3?

Sushi

Currently, I archive a copy of all of my files in WMA9 format (some .APE). I use a tool called WMA Workshop to batch-convert copies of all of my files into MP3 format. For most of the MP3s, I've used the LAME encoder to convert them to 320 CBR. Recently, however, I've begun to experiment with VBR... not for storage constraintraints, but sound quality experiements.

I haven't yet found the best "lossy" format yet for my stereo... again, all sound horrible.

WAVs, PAE and WMA 9 lossless sound the best.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 05:07 PM
Originally posted by boros
Sorry to say this, but WMA and several other formats do have an edge over AAC - they provide for lossless compression. Yes, I'm a Mac owner and I have a fairly nice stereo. I've done blind tests with WMA losless vs WAV and various AACs and MP3s. On my syetem, the difference between the best lossy compression and a WAV or lossless MP3 is striking. Actually, listening to a lossy format on my system is... well... depressing. Lossy formats are great for iPods, multimedia speakers, and that Kenwood receiver. Play a lossy format on a pair of B&W Nautilus with Krell amp and you're in for a real letdown.

Lossy compression on a "good" soundsystem works something like this... parts of the music are accurate and musical, but there are some instraments and passages that are unrecognizeable. You get wierd thumps instead of drum petals... shrieks instead of symbols. The revealing nature of these systems points out the artifacts that the compression left behind. Lossy formats actually sound worse on better soundsystems than they do on poor soundsystems - a lot worse. We're not talking sipping scotch and basking in subtle differences here... we're talking your friend's teeneage kids coming over and saying your system sounds horrible... it is that bad.

Again, this is a high-resolution audio system... think blowing that 2MP JPEG up to a poster sized image... it looks fine in 4x6, but crappy as a poster.

This creates a real dilemma as, though I love the iTunes interface, I'm forced to archive in huge WAV format files. At least WM9 supports lossless compression. Now I'm stuck with .APE archives, WMA9 Archives and WAV Archives. I have to use utilities to copy and convert batches of my files into MP3 format so they're portable. I also have to maintain seperate archives - not to mention backups of teh primary archives. This process is a complete organizational and disk-devouring nightmare... Steve J, please fix this and support lossless compression!

Right now I would have to say that this is the biggest downfall of digital music. And you'd think with the enormous growth of hard drive sizes that someone would drive home a good lossless codec. My guess is that when the bandwith of the average hosehold increases more, that we will start to see lossless codecs take hold because then people will be able to download higher quality music from their favorite music store. Until that time, I'll never use iTMS, or perhaps I should say rarely. I need a CD for my high end audio system.

Please, my Mark Levinson system is begging for it.

desdomg
Jan 12, 2004, 05:08 PM
Good point Greenstork.

Whatever way you look at the competitive legal DL market Apple is on top.

AAC accounts for 70% of the market and it is the open standard.

Notice Apple is not supporting flash MP3 players with iTMS store, rather it is setting out to take their market. It is no different with AAC. Apple is in this one to win. Not for nothing SJ says they want to "be the M$ of legal music DLs"

gothamac
Jan 12, 2004, 05:10 PM
"Currently Windows PCs use Microsoft's Media Player software to digitize music using the Windows Media Audio (WMA) format. iTunes uses Dolby's AAC digitisation system. Neither player can play songs stored in the other format.


According to The Independent, analysts had forecast that Apple's format would lose out to Microsoft because of the sheer volume of Windows PCs."

Good read on this subject below

http://www.macworld.co.uk/news/top_news_item.cfm?NewsID=7643

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 05:10 PM
Originally posted by gwangung
With all due respect, I find this hard to believe. There's been few published reports comparing AAC to WMA, with the most recent studies at least a year old.

As well, we're talking about quality at a given compression level; talking about "lossless" is, to a great extent, irrelevant as the vast majority of people will stay at 128 kbps and a vanishingly small segment will get above 192 kbps.

yes, and what the original poster is trying to say is that the digital music revolution is passing everyone by who has a high end audio system. Should we all just settle for reduced audio quality and be done with it. Bring back the casette baby, wooohoo.

All joking aside, as standard hard drive sizes continue to increase, there will be no point in ripping at a lower quality. Why not have higher quality?

crees!
Jan 12, 2004, 05:11 PM
I don't care which media coder-decoders (codecs)

Even after his reply to all this critizism he still can't get some things correct. Codec stands for compressor-decompressor. Geez oh flip.. this guy is a joke. Besides, you like how he says Apple is locking everyone into their protected proprietary format.. well was in MS doing with WMA at the same time.. huh?

hulugu
Jan 12, 2004, 05:13 PM
Originally posted by Essefgy
Personally, I'd love SHN or FLAC support a lot more than (blecch) WMA

Thank you. Hey Apple guys, bring in FLAC, bring in Ogg Vorbis, bring in new and useful formats, but don't falter to WMA now. You have the No. 1 Mp3 player and 70% of the digital music market, why would you shift to WMA now?
People are buying iPods in spite of the lack of WMA support, which tells me that people don't care about WMA as much as they do the player. Keep the iPod ahead of the game and AAC will become a de facto and true standard in digital music.

sushi
Jan 12, 2004, 05:16 PM
Originally posted by boros
For most of the MP3s, I've used the LAME encoder to convert them to 320 CBR. Recently, however, I've begun to experiment with VBR... not for storage constraintraints, but sound quality experiements.
Do you use true stereo, or joint stereo?

Do you encode at 44.1?

Sushi

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 05:17 PM
Originally posted by singletrack
If Apple's major interest is selling iPods and they make no real money on iTMS then I don't see why they don't just allow iTunes to transcode WMA files into AAC. That way windows users with legacy WMA files can convert their libraries of old WMA songs easily enough and have them play on an iPod. Kind of like when you install a new browser and it converts your old IE Favourites.

WMA based online stores like Napster are still going to be less popular as their DRM is more restrictive than Apple's iTMS and they aren't a simple click away in iTunes. Apple doesn't need to support WMA on the iPod but a conversion tool for the PC to bring your files back from the dark side would be cool. Over time, less and less people will want to use that horrible WMA format.

Because as the markt grows and if they have still cornered the market, they may eventually make money off of the iTMS, they may make a substantial amount of money.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 05:18 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
Right now I would have to say that this is the biggest downfall of digital music. And you'd think with the enormous growth of hard drive sizes that someone would drive home a good lossless codec. My guess is that when the bandwith of the average hosehold increases more, that we will start to see lossless codecs take hold because then people will be able to download higher quality music from their favorite music store. Until that time, I'll never use iTMS, or perhaps I should say rarely. I need a CD for my high end audio system.

Please, my Mark Levinson system is begging for it.

The good news is that, with the right external DAC, WAVs will probably sound great on your Levinson... if they don't, I'll gladly trade you an old Teac system that wouldn't differentiate between 320 AACs and a Rega Transport/DAC.... :)

MCCFR
Jan 12, 2004, 05:20 PM
Let's play "detect the BS"!

Last summer, HP announced a sweeping push into consumer electronics and released more than 100 new consumer-oriented products in one day. The move drew a bit of press attention, but nothing like the front-page news assault that Apple Computer generated last week for its comparably weak announcement of expensive, new, and smaller iPod devices, portable audio players that won't be available for months. Attempting to latch on to Apple's marketing success, last week HP made the incredible decision to license Apple's iPod player and iTunes software , and the move predictably catapulted HP into the spotlight for a day. But as the dust settles, HP's customers are rightly asking some hard questions about the decision because, as Microsoft is pointing out, Apple's technology offerings are an island of incompatibility in an otherwise widely compatible PC world.


Rebuttal - One
from http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2004/jan/06ipodmini.html

Pricing & Availability
iPod mini for Mac and Windows will be available in the US in February for a suggested retail price of $249 (US), and will be available worldwide in April

So Apple make an annoucement of a product that will be available in February and that's an issue. Longhorn won't be available for two years but that's OK, because it'll be really good when it gets here. Nice to see some consistency.

Rebuttal - Two

So Paul, what make's the decision incredible? Instead of building a new storefront and creating a new player from scratch, HP decided to rebrand - not license - the iPod and, in addition, offer iTMS as a storefront.

iPod has 30% of the market by volume and 50% by value. iTMS has 70% of the market. iPod is THE pre-eminent cross-platform Mac/Win digital music player and iTMS is - to my knowledge - the only cross-platform music store.

So, to HP's credit, they have decided to align themselves with THE cross-platform solution that DEFINES and LEADS the market. Incredible? Only in the sense that HP chose to exercise pragmatism in a part of the industry that normally maintains a rigid commitment to the MS cause, which is - normally - the creation of de facto standards in order to exert complete control over a given marketplace.

Rebuttal - Three

Who are these customers that are asking questions? How many HP - or indeed Dell, Sony or Toshiba - customers are ALREADY iPod users?

Given that Apple sold 730,000 iPods in the quarter ending 12/31/03 - representing 30% of the market by volume - and that Apple's share of the PC market could be assessed at around 5%, the simple extrapolation would be that around 694,000 Windows customers chose Apple's easy-to-use holistic digital music solution as opposed to its Windows-only competitors.

Maybe the question they're asking is: Why do we have to wait until the summer?

But that's not your agenda, is it?

I would argue that your concern isn't the customers of the music stores. Instead, your concern is all of the media suppliers who have invested in Wintel infrastructure to create or serve the Windows Media format.

That community - which is progressively less the preserve of the actual rights holder - has a right to ask questions. But those questions should be aimed at Microsoft who have singularly failed to convince the CONSUMER marketplace of the value of the WMA format and the digital player manufacturers who have failed to create products that ignite the imagination of the public.

Rebuttal - Four

as Microsoft is pointing out, Apple's technology offerings are an island of incompatibility in an otherwise widely compatible PC world.

FUD - in its most dishonest form and you should be ashamed for even publishing such fallacious deceit.

USB - Now standard on a Macintosh
TCP/IP - Now standard on a Macintosh
SMB support - Now standard on a Macintosh
UNIX support - Now standard on a Macintosh
Ethernet - Standard on ALL Macintosh systems for some while.
IEEE1394 (Firewire) - Now standard on a Macintosh
802.11b/g - Available on a Macintosh either as standard, or as a BTO/aftermarket option.
SMTP/POP3 - Now standard on a Macintosh
Java - Now standard on a Macintosh
MPEG-1/3/4 - Now standard on a Macintosh

Typically, the things that Apple are not compatible with are those things where Microsoft has chosen to take a defined de jure standard and to 'corrupt' that standard for its own monopolistic reasons, but we'll get back to that in the next segment.

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 05:23 PM
Originally posted by boros
Sorry to say this, but WMA and several other formats do have an edge over AAC - they provide for lossless compression. Yes, I'm a Mac owner and I have a fairly nice stereo. I've done blind tests with WMA losless vs WAV and various AACs and MP3s. On my syetem, the difference between the best lossy compression and a WAV or lossless MP3 is striking.

What a plonker !!! This is like comparing a McLaren car (chassis) to a Honda Engine or a Dyson Vacuum cleaner to a Hoover dust bag. Because what you appear to be doing is comparing WMP to AAC

AAC IS a lossy codec WMA is a whole range of codecs which are supported by WMP, you just happen to have picked out one of the better ones)

If your arguement is that WMA lossless is better than AAC, well no ones going to argue. But you have to realise that itunes is capable of playing uncompressed files and acheiving the quality you are talking about. Granted we're talking slightly bigger files, but not much and your lossless decompression is dependant on a reasonably powerful processor.

So WMP and itunes are equally capable of playing music at the quality you want, but in neither case are you going to get these formats on a portable player. If your talking about portable music, then it's pretty much down to bit-rate and my understanding is that at the same bitrate AAC produces a higher quality than WMA Standard/Pro

I understand AAC at 128 kbps has the same quality as an MP3 at 160 kbps and a WMA at 128 kbps has the quality of an MP3 at 154 kbps.

The only arguement you might have is that WMP offers lossless compression, iTunes does not, but as I've pointed out this does not mean WMP can produce higher quality sound, only the same quality but with a slight saving on disk space.

And let's face it compressed audio at this quality is never going to be played on anything other than a computer, so I might also point out that whilst lossless compression is not supported by iTunes, there are other codecs such as Shorten which can be played on a mac with far superior compression/decompression than WMA lossless.

Oh, and how you can say there is a difference between one lossless codec and the next is quite perplexing, arn't they ALL lossless, ie., will decompress without loss of data.

hulugu
Jan 12, 2004, 05:29 PM
USB - Now standard on a Macintosh
TCP/IP - Now standard on a Macintosh
SMB support - Now standard on a Macintosh
UNIX support - Now standard on a Macintosh
Ethernet - Standard on ALL Macintosh systems for some while.
IEEE1394 (Firewire) - Now standard on a Macintosh
802.11b/g - Available on a Macintosh either as standard, or as a BTO/aftermarket option.
SMTP/POP3 - Now standard on a Macintosh
Java - Now standard on a Macintosh
MPEG-1/3/4 - Now standard on a Macintosh

Almost all of these things have been standards on the Macintosh for a long time. The Macintosh basically made USB, and Firewire, and were part of the main push for the other technologies, with the exception of UNIX support which has been such since 2000.
My point, most of the standards beyond Microsoft's software, have come from the Mac or began with the Mac. And even Office owes it due to Apple and the Mac.
But, you're points are well received.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 05:30 PM
Originally posted by fatfish

The only arguement you might have is that WMP offers lossless compression, iTunes does not, but as I've pointed out this does not mean WMP can produce higher quality sound, only the same quality but with a slight saving on disk space.

And let's face it compressed audio at this quality is never going to be played on anything other than a computer, so I might also point out that whilst lossless compression is not supported by iTunes, there are other codecs such as Shorten which can be played on a mac with far superior compression/decompression than WMA lossless.

THIS IS MY ONLY ARGUMENT! Because of this, AAC is inferior to WMA as an archive format. Also, because of this, I will not pay $.99 a song for something that will sound horrible on my home stereo (Please look for reasoning behind this earlier in the thread).

I will not debate that there's a need for a lossy compression, but as WMA offers both lossy and lossless compression that maintains all of my audio data while reducing file sizes by 50-70%, I'd rate WMA as a better overall format... untill AAC supports losless compression.

Also, there is no perceptible difference in quality between lossless encoders... losless = lossless... (This is like comparing PKZIP to Stuffit... as long as you get all of your data in the end, you're OK). There is, however, sometimes a difference in quality between players that use those encoders.

Also, for some reason, WAV (uncompressed audio) always seems just a tiny bit more dynamic than even lossless-compressed files on my system... probably player issues...??? This has just been my personal observation. Has anyone else seen this with lossless .APE or Lossless WMA9s vs WAVs?

in the end, I'd love to see a lossless AAC. Also, when iTunes Store starts selling lossless audio, I'll begin to buy. until then, it's just a novelty for me.

rog
Jan 12, 2004, 05:30 PM
I think they should support WMA. The more the iPod can do the better. Making things even easier for PC users who have WMAs and don't want to reimport all their CDs is a way to get their foot in the door of Apple. If they fall in love with iTunes and the iPod and don't have to make sacrifices, they'll have a much better opinion of Apple. If MS support WMA then WMA is going to be around for the long haul. Just because Apple ignores it is not going to make it go away.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 05:32 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
What a plonker !!! This is like comparing a McLaren car (chassis) to a Honda Engine or a Dyson Vacuum cleaner to a Hoover dust bag. Because what you appear to be doing is comparing WMP to AAC

AAC IS a lossy codec WMA is a whole range of codecs which are supported by WMP, you just happen to have picked out one of the better ones)

If your arguement is that WMA lossless is better than AAC, well no ones going to argue. But you have to realise that itunes is capable of playing uncompressed files and acheiving the quality you are talking about. Granted we're talking slightly bigger files, but not much and your lossless decompression is dependant on a reasonably powerful processor.

So WMP and itunes are equally capable of playing music at the quality you want, but in neither case are you going to get these formats on a portable player. If your talking about portable music, then it's pretty much down to bit-rate and my understanding is that at the same bitrate AAC produces a higher quality than WMA Standard/Pro

I understand AAC at 128 kbps has the same quality as an MP3 at 160 kbps and a WMA at 128 kbps has the quality of an MP3 at 154 kbps.

The only arguement you might have is that WMP offers lossless compression, iTunes does not, but as I've pointed out this does not mean WMP can produce higher quality sound, only the same quality but with a slight saving on disk space.

And let's face it compressed audio at this quality is never going to be played on anything other than a computer, so I might also point out that whilst lossless compression is not supported by iTunes, there are other codecs such as Shorten which can be played on a mac with far superior compression/decompression than WMA lossless.

To put it very simply, I think the original poster is saying that WMP offers a lossless codec that can be compressed while iTunes does not. Perhaps Apple should consider a high-end audio market and another codec in iTunes. I'm not saying that WMA is the answer but I would argue that they need something. The choices now are uncompressed or lossy, and there is another market segment believe it or not, albeit a small one.

avus
Jan 12, 2004, 05:35 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
This is like comparing a McLaren car (chassis) to a Honda Engine or a Dyson Vacuum cleaner to a Hoover dust bag.

People, stop making stupid car/product analogy that doesn't make any sense! It is so insulting that my head hurts.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 05:36 PM
Originally posted by avus
People, stop making stupid car/product analogy that doesn't make any sense! It is so insulting that my head hurts.

Exactly, please stick to the vacuum cleaner anologies ;)

caddisfly
Jan 12, 2004, 05:43 PM
Originally posted by rog
I think they should support WMA. The more the iPod can do the better. Making things even easier for PC users who have WMAs and don't want to reimport all their CDs is a way to get their foot in the door of Apple. If they fall in love with iTunes and the iPod and don't have to make sacrifices, they'll have a much better opinion of Apple. If MS support WMA then WMA is going to be around for the long haul. Just because Apple ignores it is not going to make it go away.

.....it all depends whether you want Apple to turn into Dell Computer or not.

Repeat after me: Apple is *not* a hardware company!! Apple is a software company!!

They are the *ONLY* computer company that is giving the buyer a *value add* to the hardware that a user buys.

If they support WMA or any of the other BS that our monopolist friends pitch, they will kill Quicktime and all the other cool software tools that just don't quite meet the MS approved list.....

desdomg
Jan 12, 2004, 05:47 PM
I think that if we are going to start comparing audio quality then I am afraid all digital formats loose out to the good old LP.

This whole lossless argument sounds like FUD to me. Clearly if lossless is what you are after you can just buy a CD from any store. The point of the digital music revolution - and it is a revolution we are talking about here - is that it is about kids using compressed audio on portable devices.

You will have noticed that despite its recent addition to the iTMS for example, classical music is not very well represented. Nor is it big on kazzaa.

People with expensive stereos do not buy their music online.

The online segment is for kids with iPods.

jwoodget
Jan 12, 2004, 05:50 PM
The only reason I hear from anybody for the iPod to support WMA (including Paul Turdott... :) ) is so that existing WMA encoded files can be played back which "might" increase sales of the iPod. This wouldn't help the suckers who have bought DRM'ed WMA files from WalMart, MusicMatch, etc. To allow that to happen, Apple would have to licence WMA AND Microsofts DRM and add that capability to the iPod and iTunes. Hello? Why the heck would Apple even consider licensing a competing DRM when it's own format has been chosen by 70% of DRMed music files? It's not as though ANY of those stores cares one iota about Mac users (since none sell music that can be played on a Mac). Who will mourn the passing of those stores other than Microsoft?

There must be billions of WMA files out there. But people who legally own the CD can simply re-encode to AAC if they want to play their music on an iPod, using iTunes. That is, unless they don't own the music.... So, if Apple enabled WMA decoding on the iPod, one effect would be to encourage playback of illegally downloaded files. Hmmm....

Adding WMA and associated DRM to the iPod would knife the baby and Apple along with it.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 05:51 PM
Originally posted by caddisfly
.....it all depends whether you want Apple to turn into Dell Computer or not.

Repeat after me: Apple is *not* a hardware company!! Apple is a software company!!

They are the *ONLY* computer company that is giving the buyer a *value add* to the hardware that a user buys.

If they support WMA or any of the other BS that our monopolist friends pitch, they will kill Quicktime and all the other cool software tools that just don't quite meet the MS approved list.....

While many would say you are dead wrong, that Apple is a hardware company, I will not. Instead, I'll say that Apple is a systems company that offers hardware AND proprietary software. Anyone who says differently is dead wrong.

The reason that many consider them a hardware company is that hardware drives all profit at Apple. The cost of reaserch and development on their software far outweighs the revenue they pull in. I would not be surprised to see that most of their software departments are losing money. Until recenly, all of the iApps were free so certainly hardware is where the bread is buttered.

All that said, it's just impossible to label Apple a software company because they make hardware whereas Microsoft, Adobe, et al, do not.

coolsoldier
Jan 12, 2004, 05:53 PM
I haven't read all of the posts, so forgive me if this is redundant, but WMA Lossless is a completely different codec than WMA compressed. AAC is a codec that is comparable to WMA compressed. It cannot reasonably be compared to lossless formats.

All this is, of course, irrelevant since:

a) A lot of portable players that support WMA compressed do not support WMA lossless, and the same would likely be true of the iPod, even if they were to add WMA support, so WMA lossless is not a factor in the portable market.

b) Music stores that use WMA do not use lossless compression, so WMA lossless is not a factor in the music store market.

c) Lossless compression formats that are comparable to WMA lossless are available both on the Mac and on Windows, so WMA lossless is not a factor in the computer software market.

Where is WMA lossless actually relevant?

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 05:53 PM
Originally posted by desdomg
I think that if we are going to start comparing audio quality then I am afraid all digital formats loose out to the good old LP.

This whole lossless argument sounds like FUD to me. Clearly if lossless is what you are after you can just buy a CD from any store. The point of the digital music revolution - and it is a revolution we are talking about here - is that it is about kids using compressed audio on portable devices.

You will have noticed that despite its recent addition to the iTMS for example, classical music is not very well represented. Nor is it big on kazzaa.

People with expensive stereos do not buy their music online.

The online segment is for kids with iPods.

Ahhh.... so you haven't yet discovered all of the lossless audio online... Tons of it! I agree, however, that a clean LP is still the best format. SACD comes close. CDs are actually quite good, when played from a good CD player. The problem with CDs is that the early players blew.

Regarding your iPod kiddie comments, I certainly am not one. I do, however, enjoy the convenience that the format affords me over LPs, CDs, etc. with a proper outboard DAC, lossless audio approches CDs in quality. Once the Levinson, Krell, etc. guys get into the act and produce great DACs targeted at this format, I think the quality won't be an issue. Assuming, of course, you're not using a lossy format like AAC.

shamino
Jan 12, 2004, 05:53 PM
Originally posted by Le Big Mac
Isn't this claim a bit much? Sure, AAC is open, but the DRM (Fairplay) is not. So, I can burn my CDs to AAC, and I could play those songs on any player with AAC, so it's open that far. But if I buy a song with FAirplay DRM from iTMS, it's gotta be on an apple product. hardly open.

not saying it's bad, just kind of a misleading claim by Jobs.


Not really. If I rip my CD to WMA, on a Windows box, without any DRM, I can't play that file on a platform that hasn't paid Microsoft a license fee.

This is in direct contrast to AAC which, although must be licensed from Dolby/MPEG, does not have to be licensed from Apple.

In this respect, AAC is much more like MP3 (which nobody seems to have a problem with) than WMA is.

ccuilla
Jan 12, 2004, 05:59 PM
Originally posted by sw1tcher
Most music services use WMA, and with Microsoft's eventual entry into the music download business, it'll be even more difficult.

Yes, but the MOST USED music service (iTMS) uses AAC. And things are only getting started there too.

Everyone often points out that the "Microsoft camp" isn't sitting still. Which carries the implication that Apple is. The HP deal (for starters) indicates that they are not.

This next year ill be mighty interesting. If Apple plays its cards right, WMA could be a footnote in digital music history. So far, they are playing their cards right.

BTW...make no mistake...Apple undoubtedly HAS a WMA codec developed already. Its release is all that is in question.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 05:59 PM
Originally posted by coolsoldier
I haven't read all of the posts, so forgive me if this is redundant, but WMA Lossless is a completely different codec than WMA compressed. AAC is a codec that is comparable to WMA compressed. It cannot reasonably be compared to AAC.

All this is, of course, irrelevant since:

a) A lot of portable players that support WMA compressed do not support WMA lossless, and the same would likely be true of the iPod, even if they were to add WMA support, so WMA lossless is not a factor in the portable market.

b) Music stores that use WMA do not use lossless compression, so WMA lossless is not a factor in the music store market.

c) Lossless compression formats that are comparable to WMA lossless are available both on the Mac and on Windows, so WMA lossless is not a factor in the computer software market.

Where is WMA lossless actually relevant?

a) portable players aren't the only concern... what about the home stereo?

b) Until they do, I'm not paying them any money...

c) WMA with lossless support is available for the Mac in the form of WMP. Yes, I hate it, but it supports WMA lossless.

So, WMA is actually relevent..

1. as an archive format (archive = how you save those files you went through great pains to rip... I did it with 1,200 CDs and a damned sure wasn't going to rip them in something that sounded like garbage). Remember, you can also make low-res copies foryour portable devices in MP3 or whatever format you like, using thrid-party tools.

2. WMA is the default format for Windows Media and there are quite a few of those players floating around.

shamino
Jan 12, 2004, 06:01 PM
Originally posted by sw1tcher
That's an interesting idea. But wouldn't Apple then have to pay Microsoft a licensing fee for WMA since iTunes would have to be able to read/decode a WMA file?

I don't know for sure, that's why I'm asking. Maybe someone here knows.

On a Mac, yes. On Windows, no. Since Windows (at least 2000 and XP) includes the WMA codecs as a part of the operating system's multimedia APIs, any Windows program can use this format without any additional license fees.

One interesting question would be if Microsoft installs a similar API on MacOS when Windows Media Player is installed. If they do (as much as I'd object), it would allow Apple to provide this support for free (as long as you install WMP on your own.) But I don't think that will ever happen.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 06:02 PM
Originally posted by desdomg
I think that if we are going to start comparing audio quality then I am afraid all digital formats loose out to the good old LP.

This whole lossless argument sounds like FUD to me. Clearly if lossless is what you are after you can just buy a CD from any store. The point of the digital music revolution - and it is a revolution we are talking about here - is that it is about kids using compressed audio on portable devices.

You will have noticed that despite its recent addition to the iTMS for example, classical music is not very well represented. Nor is it big on kazzaa.

People with expensive stereos do not buy their music online.

The online segment is for kids with iPods.

I guess I just disagree that the digital music revolution is just about kids. IMO, Apple wants it to be about *everyone*, isn't that the point of revolutionizing the way people buy and play music, that it has broad appeal.

Unfortunately, like everything with broad appeal, there are segments left out, like high end audio. Yes I know I can rip to a .wav file but codec technology is improving and I'd like to see Apple improve with it.

The growth segment is certainly kids and some sort of market saturation will have to occur before there are any changes to the status quo for iTunes. AAC is certainly here to stay, and so is the money making machine that is the iPod. I can always hope for something better, I wouldn't expect anything less from Apple.

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 06:07 PM
Originally posted by boros
THIS IS MY ONLY ARGUMENT! Because of this, AAC is inferior to WMA as an archive format. Also, because of this, I will not pay $.99 a song for something that will sound horrible on my home stereo (Please look for reasoning behind this earlier in the thread).

I will not debate that there's a need for a lossy compression, but as WMA offers both lossy and lossless compression that maintains all of my audio data while reducing file sizes by 50-70%, I'd rate WMA as a better overall format... untill AAC supports losless compression.

Also, there is no perceptible difference in quality between lossless encoders... losless = lossless... (This is like comparing PKZIP to Stuffit... as long as you get all of your data in the end, you're OK). There is, however, sometimes a difference in quality between players that use those encoders.

Also, for some reason, WAV (uncompressed audio) always seems just a tiny bit more dynamic than even lossless-compressed files on my system... probably player issues...??? This has just been my personal observation. Has anyone else seen this with lossless .APE or Lossless WMA9s vs WAVs?

in the end, I'd love to see a lossless AAC. Also, when iTunes Store starts selling lossless audio, I'll begin to buy. until then, it's just a novelty for me.

Once again I will point out that your comparison does not make sense. WMA is a bunch of codecs supported by WMP. AAC is a codec.

You should either compare WMP against iTunes or WMA lossless against AAC, you are mixing the two and making a case to suit your own arguement.

WMP and iTunes are capable of the same quality-(WAV). WMA lossless vs AAC is not a reasonable comparison (sort of like comparing a BMW to a mercedes but limiting the mercedes to a 1.6 ltr engine).

Yes, I take your point that the best codec compatible with WMP is better than the best codec compatible with iTunes, but both can play uncompressed files and the quality will be equal. I can understand why you use WMA lossless, but I can't agree with comparing it with AAC - that's nonsense.

On another point, whilst lossless compression should result in equal quality to uncompressed audio, the reason it often doesn't is because of limitations of your processor. So if you feel your WMA lossless does not sound quite as "dynamic", may I suggest Shorten X as you are a mac user, compression/decompression rates are better than WMA losless and will likely put less demand on your processor, producing higher quality playback.

In short, I understand your choice of codec, but to compare it to AAC is not fair, I also feel there are better lossless codecs for the PC/mac than WMA lossless. WMP is good (v9 only - the rest are pretty poor) but falls short of the best by a few %.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 06:07 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
I can always hope for something better, I wouldn't expect anything less from Apple.

... and wouldn't it have been great, if Apple had come out with the lossless flavor before MS. I suspect that Apple's hands were tied for a few reasons:

1. The major growth segment that you pointed out, iPod kids, isn't that concerned with quality.
2. It would've adversely impacted their xx,000 songs on one player messages.
3. It would've tripled the bandwidth and storage costs for the iTunes store.

coolsoldier
Jan 12, 2004, 06:07 PM
Originally posted by shamino
One interesting question would be if Microsoft installs a similar API on MacOS when Windows Media Player is installed. If they do (as much as I'd object), it would allow Apple to provide this support for free (as long as you install WMP on your own.) But I don't think that will ever happen.

WMP doesn't include an API, but an adamant programmer can access Microsoft's built-in browser plugin via WebKit. It's a monumental waste of memory to do it that way, though.

WMA (Although not "protected" WMA) can also be used in a program without having WMP installed via a command-line build of the open source MPlayer.

desdomg
Jan 12, 2004, 06:09 PM
Greenstork. I think you are taking my comments too literally. Obviously iTMS is not just for kids - but you have to admit that most of the market is for under 30's. That is why the iPod minis look like sweets.

arn
Jan 12, 2004, 06:11 PM
Update: From what appears to be a very reliable source, Apple is not planning on introducing WMA support in either the HP iPod or regular iPod.

MattG
Jan 12, 2004, 06:12 PM
Originally posted by arn
Update: From what appears to be a very reliable source, Apple is not planning on introducing WMA support in either the HP iPod or regular iPod. GOOD.

F' Windows.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 06:22 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
Once again I will point out that your comparison does not make sense. WMA is a bunch of codecs supported by WMP. AAC is a codec.

You should either compare WMP against iTunes or WMA lossless against AAC, you are mixing the two and making a case to suit your own arguement.



OK, Not sure how this got convoluted in all of the threads, but....

1. WMA 9 losless is a better ARCHIVE Codec than AAC because it is lossless...
2. WMA 9 also supports lossy compression... If we're saying that this is a seperate CODEC than the lossy WMA 9, then we should, perhaps, consider treating the AAC CODECs as a family of CODEC. Regardless, we are splitting haris here... LOSSLESS = BETTER ARCHIVE. WMA INCLUDES LOSSLESS. AAC DOES NOT. AAC INFERIOR FOR ARCHIVE. AAC INFERIOR FOR ME.

The fact of the matter is that the WMA 9 lossless CODEC, an evil proprietary MS CoDEC, saves all of my audio data while copressing the files to 30-50% of thier original file size. The evil MS player does this with a very intuitive interface... it's dead-simple.

having said that, it is proprietary... I'd rather it be open and from Apple. :( Now that they're not going to support WMA, they'd better introduce a lossless format soon.

jwoodget
Jan 12, 2004, 06:29 PM
So, in other words, the WMA on iPod rumors were simply wishful thinking by Paul Thurrott. I didn't think his credibility needed any further erosion....

Apple isn't stupid.

akac
Jan 12, 2004, 06:35 PM
Originally posted by arn
... and it's been there since (something like) the first version of iTunes

It's not new to 4.2. If it meant something, it meant something 2-3 years ago... when they put it in. Lately, they've just not taken it out of the resources.

arn

Except the first iTunes icon wasn't green. It is as of 4.0 and the icons were green too....so they've been updated.

Same with the OGG and SD2 icons.

shamino
Jan 12, 2004, 06:37 PM
Wow. This guy's one hell of a liar.
... Apple Computer generated last week for its comparably weak announcement of expensive, new, and smaller iPod devices, portable audio players that won't be available for months. ...
First off, the iPod minis cost the same as other 4G music players - like the newly announced 4G Rio Nitrus.

And for availability, they're available now. They won't be sold outside of the US until April, but that's a far cry from his blanket statement that they "won't be available for months."
... Here's the problem: Apple's iPod plays back the popular MP3 audio format as well as the standards-based Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format. But the Apple iTunes Music Store sells songs only in the more limited Protected AAC format, which is compatible only with iTunes and the iPod...
Also not true. Any program that uses the QuickTime libraries can play Apple's protected AAC files. And QuickTime is a free download for Windows users.
...RealNetworks is offering higher-quality AAC files than the iTunes Music Store offers because most customers will likely want to convert the RealNetworks' AAC files to the more compatible MP3 format for the short term. ...
Somehow, I doubt Real's decision is to allow people to convert ther downloads into a non-DRM file format. I think the RIAA would have them executed if that was the reason.
Enter HP, which makes a variety of digital-media products, including Media Center PCs, iPAQs, and media set-top boxes--none of which are compatible with the Protected AAC format...
Unless they license QuickTime for use in these products. Just like they would have to pay Microsoft for a license to bundle WMA support into such a device.

Contrary to what the MS-advocates would have you think, WMA doesn't come for free. If you aren't running your player on Windows, you have to pay to license the format.
A contact close to HP told me point blank that HP was requiring Apple to add WMA support to the iPod...

Ah yes. The anonymous contact. The one person in the world making this claim, when executives from both Apple and HP are explicitly saying otherwise.

It might be an interesting rumor if it wasn't being told to us by the editor of a Microsoft propaganda journal. More likely that he just made up this source.
In the HP booth at CES, employees clearly had been briefed about the technological concerns, but I got the impression that none of them actually had a handle on the problems. When I asked an HP representative how the company would solve the incompatibility problems, he told me, incorrectly, that the Protected AAC files users download do, in fact, work on HP's products and that converting them is a simple task if they don't.

I guess he's never spoken with salesdroids before. You can't ever ask a technical question of people on the floor of a convention. They're all marketing people, not engineers.
Again, choice is what we expect in the PC industry...
...and if you choose something other than Microsoft's preference, you are contributing to the demise of the entire consumer electronics industry.
... Apple and HP have just set back the convergence of PCs and consumer electronics an untold number of years.
I can't believe he wrote this. The entire computer industry has been destroyed because one PC vendor has decided that Microsoft's solution isn't the best one available. Oh the horror. Oh the humanity! We should all throw ourselves out of our office windows now. How will the industry ever survive if we don't all exercise our freedom to do what Microsoft tells us to do.

ccuilla
Jan 12, 2004, 06:38 PM
I still don't understand why so many people don't recognize that this is a format/DRM battle Apple is fighting.

Step back. Look at the WHOLE board.

Apple is battling to control DRM for digital music/media. So is MS. Apple knows this. MS knows this.

You are about beging hearing a whole more FUD from the MS camp. It is going to get ugly...fast.

The HP deal is brilliant. Bring on the rumored McDonald's deal now!

Next...say by summer...make iPod Mini $199 (this is likely to happen).

This is Apple's game to lose, and I think that the only way for them to lose it, is (much like my beloved Green Bay Packers), by being too conservative. so far they are not showing signs of this. They are making all the right moves...so far.

Another thing that it important to understand is that MS doesn't dominate EVERYTHING. This may be one thing they end up not dominating.

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 06:42 PM
Whilst I have "mounted my high horse" and "blown my apple trumpet", I do believe this quality issue is nonsense. We are talking highly compressed audio to a mass market in most cases.

Super-duper quality is not required by the majority, and for those that do want it, we have lossless compression, uncompressed digital audio, Phonographs and multi-track cartridge and who knows there's probabally some super quality digital audio being used in some recording studio somewhere that may be available to a small but prestigious minority.

WMA lossless is pretty low down the list of these superior products, but still shouldn't be compared to AAC.

So returning to the issue in hand for the majority of the digital music market and whether WMA files should be supported by apple. No God forbid (lossless compression issues aside) it is AAC's poor relative - don't cheapen the superior product Apple have given us.

I feel that we are locked into a fight to the death between M$ and Apple and why should Apple give up now when they are winning (for once). Let's each stick to our own side of the battlefield - after all does WMP support AAC or is it likely to until it throws in the towel.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 06:43 PM
Originally posted by shamino

First off, the iPod minis cost the same as other 4G music players - like the newly announced 4G Rio Nitrus.


While most of your post was spot on, the iPod Mini also comes in priced at exactly the same as at least one 15GB music player, the Dell DJ. For ease of use, style, etc. there is no comparison but if we're just talking GB, then the Dell DJ is a better value.

shamino
Jan 12, 2004, 06:45 PM
Originally posted by boros
I agree with your assumptions on the future of bandwidth and consumer hifi... Also, look at SACD, DVD-Audio, etc. the difference with these vs. regular CDs is huge. and is likely to spoil consumers to want better audio quality.
Interesting you should mention this. It's worth noting that most people have no problems with Dolby Digital/AC3 on their DVDs, which is about 10:1 compression (about equivalent to 140Kbps for 2-channels.) and DTS is about 4:1 compression (about 360Kbps for 2 channels.)

I think compressed vs. uncompressed is less of an issue than the quality of the compression.

It's also well known that professionally-encoded MP3/WMA/AAC files sound better than the ones you rip yourself. And for the ones you rip yourself, different programs do produce different levels of quality (it's easy to test this with the MP3 format, where there are a wide variety of encoders available to compare.)

Lancetx
Jan 12, 2004, 06:48 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
While most of your post was spot on, the iPod Mini also comes in priced at exactly the same as at least one 15GB music player, the Dell DJ. For ease of use, style, etc. there is no comparison but if we're just talking GB, then the Dell DJ is a better value.

Except that you're comparing apples (no pun intended) to oranges if you're comparing the iPod mini to the 15GB Dell DJ. The Dell is almost twice the size and weight of the mini and is not even in the same class of player as the iPod mini or the Nitrus. You're paying extra for the small form factor of the mini and/or Nitrus, not for the price to capacity ratio. If you want to make an accurate comparison, you need to compare the DJ to the $299 15GB iPod.

arn
Jan 12, 2004, 06:49 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
While most of your post was spot on, the iPod Mini also comes in priced at exactly the same as at least one 15GB music player, the Dell DJ. For ease of use, style, etc. there is no comparison but if we're just talking GB, then the Dell DJ is a better value.

best value for $/storage.... but not the best value for $/compactness

arn

Photorun
Jan 12, 2004, 06:50 PM
WMA sucks. If they do any standard, it should be the best, that should win out. You know, just like Macs are winning out over WIntel... er, oh, that's right. Sadly the general public can be shoveled a plate of s*** and ask for seconds. Need proof? Microshaft. They'll throw marketing and misinformation, Apple will drop the ball, and we'll be where we are with iTunes/iPod where we are as a platform.

amin
Jan 12, 2004, 06:51 PM
Originally posted by boros
Also, for some reason, WAV (uncompressed audio) always seems just a tiny bit more dynamic than even lossless-compressed files on my system... probably player issues...??? This has just been my personal observation. Has anyone else seen this with lossless .APE or Lossless WMA9s vs WAVs?

This is the reason why WMA has no role in my life. I like to use AAC on my iPod and stick to uncompressed formats on my home system. I'll just continue to archive without compression.

gothamac
Jan 12, 2004, 06:57 PM
What a lousy day for the rumor sites

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 06:58 PM
Originally posted by boros
OK, Not sure how this got convoluted in all of the threads, but....

1. WMA 9 losless is a better ARCHIVE Codec than AAC because it is lossless...
2. WMA 9 also supports lossy compression... If we're saying that this is a seperate CODEC than the lossy WMA 9, then we should, perhaps, consider treating the AAC CODECs as a family of CODEC. Regardless, we are splitting haris here... LOSSLESS = BETTER ARCHIVE. WMA INCLUDES LOSSLESS. AAC DOES NOT. AAC INFERIOR FOR ARCHIVE. AAC INFERIOR FOR ME.

The fact of the matter is that the WMA 9 lossless CODEC, an evil proprietary MS CoDEC, saves all of my audio data while copressing the files to 30-50% of thier original file size. The evil MS player does this with a very intuitive interface... it's dead-simple.

having said that, it is proprietary... I'd rather it be open and from Apple. :( Now that they're not going to support WMA, they'd better introduce a lossless format soon.

Why on earth should we treat AAC as a family of codecs like WMA, AAC is one codec, it is the audio part of an MPEG4 file.

Also, your compression seems to have got much better using WMA lossless since your last quote (about an hour ago), hell some 50% better. I thought your first quote was fairly accurate, simply find your quote of 30-50% hard to believe, hell no I'm quite prepared to say your telling whoppers.

Don't you realise what I'm saying, I understand why you use WMA lossy, BUT it's a different animal for a different market and shouldn't be compared with AAC, just like you shouldn't compare a fridge with a freezer or beer with a sports drink.

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 07:06 PM
Originally posted by amin
This is the reason why WMA has role in my life. I like to use AAC on my iPod and stick to uncompressed formats on my home system. I'll just continue to archive without compression.

Don't understand your quote, why would you have a role for WMA - WMA is compressed whatever the codec, but you say your going to stick to uncompressed. Both WMP and iTunes support uncompressed files - but all WMA's are compressed.

rdowns
Jan 12, 2004, 07:10 PM
Originally posted by radiofreak
My point is,it would be nice if we had the option to search 3 or 4 music stores..buy the songs we want and then download them onto the mp3 player of OUR choice. If a person could buy from any music store.....and use any player....I still think the ipod would still dominate..it may even make it a more attractive buy.



The market for online music stores is in its infancy. I think your vision above will one day be realized. The wars must first be fought.

shamino
Jan 12, 2004, 07:11 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
Both WMP and iTunes support uncompressed files - but all WMA's are compressed.
I guess you haven't read all the prior messages. In addition to its lossy-compression codec, WMA also supports a lossless compression codec. Which sounds the same as uncompressed (because no data is lost) but is smaller than uncompressed. You can expect about 2:1 compression with such a codec (vs the 11:1 compression ratio that a 128Kbps format will give you.)

The person you were replying to did say "uncompressed", and maybe that's what he meant, but others here have been discussing WMA's that use the lossless compression codec.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 07:13 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
Why on earth should we treat AAC as a family of codecs like WMA, AAC is one codec, it is the audio part of an MPEG4 file.

Also, your compression seems to have got much better using WMA lossless since your last quote (about an hour ago), hell some 50% better. I thought your first quote was fairly accurate, simply find your quote of 30-50% hard to believe, hell no I'm quite prepared to say your telling whoppers.

Don't you realise what I'm saying, I understand why you use WMA lossy, BUT it's a different animal for a different market and shouldn't be compared with AAC, just like you shouldn't compare a fridge with a freezer or beer with a sports drink.

OK, now we're getting non-productive and nasty here... this is my last post...

Re. My "Whopper" ... I originally said "50-70% compression" I supsequently said "50-30% of the original file size"... I think the two are fairly consistent... again, you can (and I suspect you will) cut hairs. Actual rates vary, depending on the complexity of the music... my observations are somehwere in this range. You can choose to belive that this is a whopper if you like.

Re the rest of your post, we're essentially agreeing... though you tend to do so in a contrary and fairly cheeky way. Yes, AAC is good for things like iPods...

IMOHO, WMA 9 lossless is a better format for high-quality archives.

People should be made aware of the disctinction between lossy and lossless compression, beferore they spend time ripping their CD collections. This distinction might not be important for many people, but they should be aware of the tradeoffs nonetheless.

Plenty of people maintain archives with dupes in numerous formats.

Apple should strive to deliver lossless audio compression...

rdowns
Jan 12, 2004, 07:14 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
Right now I would have to say that this is the biggest downfall of digital music. And you'd think with the enormous growth of hard drive sizes that someone would drive home a good lossless codec. My guess is that when the bandwith of the average hosehold increases more, that we will start to see lossless codecs take hold because then people will be able to download higher quality music from their favorite music store. Until that time, I'll never use iTMS, or perhaps I should say rarely. I need a CD for my high end audio system.

Please, my Mark Levinson system is begging for it.

Right now the format wars are being fought with all sides trying to reach the masses. The masses do not have Mark Levinson systems. You opted for a real high end piece of equipment; the masses never will. As/when the market ages, someone will step up and ater to the very high end.

amin
Jan 12, 2004, 07:18 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
Don't understand your quote, why would you have a role for WMA - WMA is compressed whatever the codec, but you say your going to stick to uncompressed. Both WMP and iTunes support uncompressed files - but all WMA's are compressed.

Oops, I meant to say "no role," not "role." I fixed my statement to say what I meant.

jettredmont
Jan 12, 2004, 07:24 PM
Originally posted by boros
It would also gr great if the songs we paid $.99 a piece for were in a format that sounded as good as a CD. WMA lossless gives us that.... .APE gives us that... AAC doesn't.

Where, exactly, are you buying WMA lossless songs for $.99?

No WMA music store I know of is selling lossless. They are all compressed at about 128k, same as Apple's AAC (and comparable quality; different profiles, but it all evens out to about the same quality IMHO).

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 07:26 PM
Originally posted by shamino
I guess you haven't read all the prior messages. In addition to its lossy-compression codec, WMA also supports a lossless compression codec. Which sounds the same as uncompressed (because no data is lost) but is smaller than uncompressed. You can expect about 2:1 compression with such a codec (vs the 11:1 compression ratio that a 128Kbps format will give you.)

The person you were replying to did say "uncompressed", and maybe that's what he meant, but others here have been discussing WMA's that use the lossless compression codec.

I rather think it's you that havn't read all the previous posts, this topic has been well discussed.

The two points I have raised are that WMA lossless is not a reasonable comparison with AAC, and that WMA lossless is far from as good as other lossless codecs which are available on both PC's and Macs.

And rather than you post (as you just have done) without reading previous posts, let me clarify my last statement:-

All lossless codecs should by nature produce a lossless playback of data, however this is rather dependant on your processor and if it's not up to sctratch, quality will suffer. WMA lossless is average at best, there are far superior codecs in terms of compression/decompression rates that relegate this WMA lossless supporters club to division 3.

jettredmont
Jan 12, 2004, 07:40 PM
Originally posted by crees!
Even after his reply to all this critizism he still can't get some things correct. Codec stands for compressor-decompressor. Geez oh flip.. this guy is a joke. Besides, you like how he says Apple is locking everyone into their protected proprietary format.. well was in MS doing with WMA at the same time.. huh?

Umm, no. Codec stands for coder-decoder in the original usage. Codec's don't always compress. In more recent usage, people have re-christened it as an abbreviation for compressor-decompressor. However, still, codec does not necessitate any sort of compression from the source material (lossless or lossy).

The whole idea of "compressing" an analog source into a digital stream is a bit odd. This is what codecs in the larger sense were for (encoding analog so that it could be reasonably accurately decoded back to analog at some later time). Even in current usage, if you call something a compressor, the obvious question is: "compressed from what?" WAV audio uses a PCM codec. This is generally referred to as uncompressed; what is the "codec" doing? If PCM is uncompressed, then by extension any "codec" should produce a smaller file size than a WAV, right? But that's not true either (WAV is big, but other formats are less efficient in storage).

IMHO, "compressor-decompressor" is just something someone made up when they couldn't remember what "codec" really meant, and it stuck even though it never made much sense :)

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 07:42 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
I rather think it's you that havn't read all the previous posts, this topic has been well discussed.

The two points I have raised are that WMA lossless is not a reasonable comparison with AAC, and that WMA lossless is far from as good as other lossless codecs which are available on both PC's and Macs.

And rather than you post (as you just have done) without reading previous posts, let me clarify my last statement:-

All lossless codecs should by nature produce a lossless playback of data, however this is rather dependant on your processor and if it's not up to sctratch, quality will suffer. WMA lossless is average at best, there are far superior codecs in terms of compression/decompression rates that relegate this WMA lossless supporters club to division 3.

Editied: as I came off as a bit of a jerk...

this thread started with a discussion of WMA being supported in iTunes/iPod. In that context, WMA lossless was discussed as potential beneficial. Were WMA 9 actually supported, there would possibly be a lossless CODEC supported in iTunes. Thus, theoretically, one could use iTunes to rip in lossless WMA 9 format for archiving. One could subsequently use one of numerous available toos to make copies and convert the entire librabry into AAC, MP3, or lossy WMA for portability. Something like this, IMOHO, would be a good thing.

I don't know about your other point as to many available lossless CODECs for the Mac and Winblows... I've tried a lot of them and and haven't found one I particularly liked.... APE was OK in many cases, though I didn't like the Mac sipport. It should be noted that this was almost a year ago, so APE may have improved on the Mac.

svenas1
Jan 12, 2004, 07:43 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
While many would say you are dead wrong, that Apple is a hardware company, I will not. Instead, I'll say that Apple is a systems company that offers hardware AND proprietary software. Anyone who says differently is dead wrong.


Apple is far more than a software company. But it hardly develops any hardware any more. It develops nearly exclusively software products. All of the hardware - that as you rightly note drive profits - does not stem from Apple. All of the major components come from OEMs. Harddisks, optical drives, displays, CPUs, GPUs, wireless cards, networking chipsets etc etc. Please mention a hardware technology Apple has developed recently ? Firewire comes to mind, but that's about it.


The reason that many consider them a hardware company is that hardware drives all profit at Apple. The cost of reaserch and development on their software far outweighs the revenue they pull in. I would not be surprised to see that most of their software departments are losing money. Until recenly, all of the iApps were free so certainly hardware is where the bread is buttered.

All that said, it's just impossible to label Apple a software company because they make hardware whereas Microsoft, Adobe, et al, do not.

Which hardware does Apple actually make, as in manufacture ? Don't get me wrong, their approach to making computers is far superior to that of any other company, in terms of providing a complete solution. Apple still makes their own motherboard designs, but most of your computers innards don't bear the name 'Apple'.

NusuniAdmin
Jan 12, 2004, 07:44 PM
Originally posted by jettredmont
Where, exactly, are you buying WMA lossless songs for $.99?

No WMA music store I know of is selling lossless. They are all compressed at about 128k, same as Apple's AAC (and comparable quality; different profiles, but it all evens out to about the same quality IMHO).

he said "It would be great" meaning that he thought that would be great if they came out wit that in the future. He did not mean present. read before u post.

jettredmont
Jan 12, 2004, 07:59 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
I guess I just disagree that the digital music revolution is just about kids. IMO, Apple wants it to be about *everyone*, isn't that the point of revolutionizing the way people buy and play music, that it has broad appeal.

Unfortunately, like everything with broad appeal, there are segments left out, like high end audio. Yes I know I can rip to a .wav file but codec technology is improving and I'd like to see Apple improve with it.

The growth segment is certainly kids and some sort of market saturation will have to occur before there are any changes to the status quo for iTunes. AAC is certainly here to stay, and so is the money making machine that is the iPod. I can always hope for something better, I wouldn't expect anything less from Apple.

Apple is not targetting high-end audio codecs today. That is a simple, self-evident fact. When/if they do, they'll let you know it. They *have* targetted high-end video codecs (pixlet).

Today, for high-end audio, you do not have a digital purchase choice, unless you go through rather obscure means (direct to the musician or such). This is true on both sides of the digital music business.

Apple having an AAC/lossless would not improve this picture whatsoever. You would still not be able to buy it from iTMS. You would still have to rip it from your CDs. I suspect that when Apple supports a lossless compression codec for audio, it won't be called AAC, as AAC is targetted for lossy compression and Dolby isn't as loose with its branding as Microsoft is with WMA (where the goal is, essentially, to have every possible audio and video stream be labeled with "Windows Media", confusing the consumer into thinking that the 128k WMA they just downloaded is essentially the same as the WMA 7.1 surround track they heard in the theater).

In other words, the distinction really shouldn't matter this much. If you want WMA/lossless, then rip your CDs to that (and use something besides iTunes to listen/burn them). If you want lossless with iTunes then buy a second HD and rip to AIFF/WAV uncompressed (not all that much more space if you're saying WMA lossless gets a max of 50% savings ... just one more HD :) )

In either case, you'll want to re-code them down to AAC for your iPod if you use an iPod, as the space vs quality argument doesn't make sense there (until iPods have 250GB drives ...)

OTOH ... that's kinda a good idea for Apple. Debut a lossless codec. Provide a new option for iTMS downloads in the new lossless codec. Push the massive-sized iPods ... hmmmmm ....

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 07:59 PM
Originally posted by svenas1
Apple is far more than a software company. But it hardly develops any hardware any more. It develops nearly exclusively software products. All of the hardware - that as you rightly note drive profits - does not stem from Apple. All of the major components come from OEMs. Harddisks, optical drives, displays, CPUs, GPUs, wireless cards, networking chipsets etc etc. Please mention a hardware technology Apple has developed recently ? Firewire comes to mind, but that's about it.



Which hardware does Apple actually make, as in manufacture ? Don't get me wrong, their approach to making computers is far superior to that of any other company, in terms of providing a complete solution. Apple still makes their own motherboard designs, but most of your computers innards don't bear the name 'Apple'.

I hate it when people use car comparisons but in this case, it seems appropriate. BMW doesn't actually make all of the components of their car, indeed most are outsourced. However, by most accounts, BMW still makes cars. The same theory applies to Boeing and on and on.

Aside from that, a company is not defined by what it develops but rather, by what it sells. That is why in every business listing of Apple, it's called a computer company with many subcategories of software and *hardware*.

Lastly, you're just dead wrong. All Apple computers are designed by Apple engineers, all one has to do is look inside and outside of a new G5 Power Mac to see this. Believe it or not a whole computer is a piece of hardware and not just a sum of its parts. Thank goodness that Apple does *develop* its own hardware or we'd end up with just another beige box.

x86isslow
Jan 12, 2004, 08:00 PM
Originally posted by Lancetx
Except that you're comparing apples (no pun intended) to oranges if you're comparing the iPod mini to the 15GB Dell DJ. The Dell is almost twice the size and weight of the mini and is not even in the same class of player as the iPod mini or the Nitrus. You're paying extra for the small form factor of the mini and/or Nitrus, not for the price to capacity ratio. If you want to make an accurate comparison, you need to compare the DJ to the $299 15GB iPod.

perhaps the analogy is best put apples to lemons.. two of my friends were gifted dell djs for the holidays, and lo, within days, they were malfunctioning :(

caddisfly
Jan 12, 2004, 08:03 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
While many would say you are dead wrong, that Apple is a hardware company, I will not. Instead, I'll say that Apple is a systems company that offers hardware AND proprietary software. Anyone who says differently is dead wrong.

The reason that many consider them a hardware company is that hardware drives all profit at Apple. The cost of reaserch and development on their software far outweighs the revenue they pull in. I would not be surprised to see that most of their software departments are losing money. Until recenly, all of the iApps were free so certainly hardware is where the bread is buttered.

All that said, it's just impossible to label Apple a software company because they make hardware whereas Microsoft, Adobe, et al, do not.

....well, OK, strictly speaking....but the only reason I have bought Apple hardware since 1981 (pre-Mac) is because what their software (OS and apps) lets me do with it.

But- you are right -- it is their "system". I call it "design" - the way the whole package is integrated that makes the value. But, in my mind, it is more software "like" than hardware.

Would the ipod be the "thing" without the integration of itunes and the music store in addition to its design, size, etc? I don't think so and so far, the market bears that out.

The cube was probably the only Mac worth buying just on looks alone....and I didn't even buy one of those until it dropped to $1200! ;-)

My point was: "you kill the software and you kill the concept".

Giving in to MS on the WMA just places you under the same monolopist pressure the Gates et al puts on everyone else --- you are forced to bend to their market power.

Nothing has every gotten better by doing the same thing that everyone else is --- it may get cheaper, but not better.

jettredmont
Jan 12, 2004, 08:04 PM
Originally posted by akac
Except the first iTunes icon wasn't green. It is as of 4.0 and the icons were green too....so they've been updated.

Same with the OGG and SD2 icons.

If you are shipping a product and changing the color of icons, you will usually change the color of all shipped icons, regardless of if they're being used or not.

Really simple process. Open up the .icns. For each icon, replace purple with green. No thought required. No decision to drop/keep the WMA icon required. These things, in software development, are generally regarded as Good Things.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 08:05 PM
Originally posted by jettredmont
Apple is not targetting high-end audio codecs today. That is a simple, self-evident fact. When/if they do, they'll let you know it. They *have* targetted high-end video codecs (pixlet).

Today, for high-end audio, you do not have a digital purchase choice, unless you go through rather obscure means (direct to the musician or such). This is true on both sides of the digital music business.

Apple having an AAC/lossless would not improve this picture whatsoever. You would still not be able to buy it from iTMS. You would still have to rip it from your CDs. I suspect that when Apple supports a lossless compression codec for audio, it won't be called AAC, as AAC is targetted for lossy compression and Dolby isn't as loose with its branding as Microsoft is with WMA (where the goal is, essentially, to have every possible audio and video stream be labeled with "Windows Media", confusing the consumer into thinking that the 128k WMA they just downloaded is essentially the same as the WMA 7.1 surround track they heard in the theater).

In other words, the distinction really shouldn't matter this much. If you want WMA/lossless, then rip your CDs to that (and use something besides iTunes to listen/burn them). If you want lossless with iTunes then buy a second HD and rip to AIFF/WAV uncompressed (not all that much more space if you're saying WMA lossless gets a max of 50% savings ... just one more HD :) )

In either case, you'll want to re-code them down to AAC for your iPod if you use an iPod, as the space vs quality argument doesn't make sense there (until iPods have 250GB drives ...)

OTOH ... that's kinda a good idea for Apple. Debut a lossless codec. Provide a new option for iTMS downloads in the new lossless codec. Push the massive-sized iPods ... hmmmmm ....

With the rate in which HD sizes for both the desktop and the iPod are increasing, I don't see any technical/practical limitations to a lossless codec. Of course, business decisions are rarely about what is technologically possible and more about what will earn the most $$$. Here's hoping that quality will prevail, an ideal that seems to fit the Apple mold.

svenas1
Jan 12, 2004, 08:06 PM
Originally posted by ccuilla
I still don't understand why so many people don't recognize that this is a format/DRM battle Apple is fighting.

Step back. Look at the WHOLE board.

Apple is battling to control DRM for digital music/media. So is MS. Apple knows this. MS knows this.

You are about beging hearing a whole more FUD from the MS camp. It is going to get ugly...fast.

The HP deal is brilliant. Bring on the rumored McDonald's deal now!

Next...say by summer...make iPod Mini $199 (this is likely to happen).

This is Apple's game to lose, and I think that the only way for them to lose it, is (much like my beloved Green Bay Packers), by being too conservative. so far they are not showing signs of this. They are making all the right moves...so far.

Another thing that it important to understand is that MS doesn't dominate EVERYTHING. This may be one thing they end up not dominating.

Absolutely spot on. Selling a few more iPods is not going to make up for the losses if MS controls the ditribution format. That can easily cost Apple untold sums more in the future. This has to be fought out now and fast.

That is why the HP deal is so momentous - and that is why all the MS drones (like the spine- and brainless P.T.) are getting their knickers in such a proverbial twist. This is about a lot more than even selling a few more units. AAC is not controlled by MS. WMA is. It is about 'tides' and gaining marketshare, and keeping ahead in the game and not handing the opposition more control than absolutely necessary.

jettredmont
Jan 12, 2004, 08:08 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
While most of your post was spot on, the iPod Mini also comes in priced at exactly the same as at least one 15GB music player, the Dell DJ. For ease of use, style, etc. there is no comparison but if we're just talking GB, then the Dell DJ is a better value.

The Dell DJ is more than twice the size of the iPod mini.

You pay, as always, for miniaturization.

Why can't people understand this?

Look at players of the approximate storage and size of the miniPod and you'll find that they are all within pennies of each other in price. Period.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 08:11 PM
Originally posted by jettredmont
The Dell DJ is more than twice the size of the iPod mini.

You pay, as always, for miniaturization.

Why can't people understand this?

Look at players of the approximate storage and size of the miniPod and you'll find that they are all within pennies of each other in price. Period.

I can understand this but the parent post only cited size for price, please put my response in context.

Come to think of it, I said very clearly in my post that if we were just talking about GB.

gwangung
Jan 12, 2004, 08:12 PM
Originally posted by boros
Alright,, I'll bite... I was going to stay out of this but - since you're hostile to just about everybody with your superior "British not European" attitude...

Fistly, this thread actually started with a discussion of WMA being supported in iTunes/iPod. In that context, WMA lossless was discussed as potential beneficial.

In a theoretical world.

But we're talking about the real world, where 128-bit AAC is driving sales of Ipods. I do not for a second think that lossless WMA will drive sales of Ipods for the next 2-3 years.

And THAT is why you're getting such disagreement, because what you're discussing is out of context with the real world. Folks are talking mass market, portable players and consumers where 128-bit is "good enough" (and don't for a second think that "good enough" isn't a factor; that's why metal typeset were replaced by phototypesetting in the 1970s, and why phototypesetting was replaced by laserwriters in the 1980s and 90s). Ignoring THOSE factors is a form of arrogance in and of itself...

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 08:16 PM
Originally posted by boros
OK, now we're getting non-productive and nasty here... this is my last post...

Re. My "Whopper" ... I originally said "50-70% compression" I supsequently said "50-30% of the original file size"... I think the two are fairly consistent... again, you can (and I suspect you will) cut hairs. Actual rates vary, depending on the complexity of the music... my observations are somehwere in this range. You can choose to belive that this is a whopper if you like.

Re the rest of your post, we're essentially agreeing... though you tend to do so in a contrary and fairly cheeky way. Yes, AAC is good for things like iPods...

IMOHO, WMA 9 lossless is a better format for high-quality archives.

People should be made aware of the disctinction between lossy and lossless compression, beferore they spend time ripping their CD collections. This distinction might not be important for many people, but they should be aware of the tradeoffs nonetheless.

Plenty of people maintain archives with dupes in numerous formats.

Apple should strive to deliver lossless audio compression...

OK, like you said we probably agree in the most part, I just resist the push for M$ products.

I personally understand that lossless compression at best achieves about 50-70% reduction in file size, but maybe you have a better experience than me. I don't keep lossless files or uncompresed files, I only experiment with them.

It just seems to me that there are better alternatives than the evil empire.

I note the guy who has a levard something, don't know what it is but it sounds a lot more expensive than my B & O.

I just wonder, that for someone to play these lossless files, they must have a fairly costly computer and sound system, if all the expense that's involved doesn't warrant say an extra FW 800 500GB HD so as they can have all their files uncompressed. I mean in the light of all this expensive equipment, whats another £ 400.00-it's gotta hold say 10,000 songs uncompressed.

But then again, I can understand not wanting to re-rip them, just can't understand how you can say there's no real alternative to WMA lossless, and then be happy to convert if iTunes did support a lossless codec.

I also suppose I agree, I don't understand why Apple can't support a lossless codec in iTunes, but I do understand why they don't.

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 08:17 PM
Originally posted by gwangung
In a theoretical world.

But we're talking about the real world, where 128-bit AAC is driving sales of Ipods. I do not for a second think that lossless WMA will drive sales of Ipods for the next 3-5 years.

And THAT is why you're getting such disagreement, because what you're discussing doesn't have a connection to the real world.

If you look at at boras' posts you see that he offered an advantage of WMA. Yes it is an advantage that does not serve the download market or the iPod sales market. However, in the real world, some people don't own iPods and they would like to listen to their music collection on their home stereo from their computer. It's a small and overlooked market that DOES exist. No one claimed lossless codecs would drive the download business or the sale of iPods, this is an incorrect assumption that you are making as to the subject of boras' posts.

edit: Just for clarification, I don't want WMA or a WMA lossless codec anywhere near my computer, I'm just putting it in perspective from someone who listened to boras' posts.

caddisfly
Jan 12, 2004, 08:24 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
With the rate in which HD sizes for both the desktop and the iPod are increasing, I don't see any technical/practical limitations to a lossless codec. Of course, business decisions are rarely about what is technologically possible and more about what will earn the most $$$. Here's hoping that quality will prevail, an ideal that seems to fit the Apple mold.

....but not to pick on you, but you're kidding right?

I just checked my latest rip:
4 minute of audio CD track = 40MB
same track as 192kps MP3 = 5.4 MB

....it seems my lossy compression saved me 8 times the space....which in my case represents 20GB of music vs 160 GB of music.

gwangung
Jan 12, 2004, 08:25 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
If you look at at boras' posts you see that he offered an advantage of WMA. Yes it is an advantage that does not serve the download market or the iPod sales market. However, in the real world, some people don't own iPods and they would like to listen to their music collection on their home stereo from their computer. It's a small and overlooked market that DOES exist. No one claimed lossless codecs would drive the download business or the sale of iPods, this is an incorrect assumption that you are making as to the subject of boras' posts.

Yeah, but doncha think that it's a kinda silly point to be making in a thread that was talking about ipods and WMA? And a point that's easily misconstrued in such a topic? Particularly when he did make the comparison between WMA and CCA? He's comparing apples to oranges without noting the change in fruits.....

jettredmont
Jan 12, 2004, 08:25 PM
Originally posted by boros
Re. My "Whopper" ... I originally said "50-70% compression" I supsequently said "50-30% of the original file size"... I think the two are fairly consistent... again, you can (and I suspect you will) cut hairs. Actual rates vary, depending on the complexity of the music... my observations are somehwere in this range. You can choose to belive that this is a whopper if you like.


I can back him up on this one.

Compression ratios depend a LOT on the source material ("flatter"/quieter wave forms compress significantly better than louder or more "jarring" pieces ... compare 35% compressed size of a soft concerto to 85% compressed size of pink noise).

The FLAC codec has a set of comparisons. Doesn't include WMA at all, but I don't think WMA is outside the general range defined in these tests:

http://flac.sourceforge.net/comparison.html

OTOH, this brings up the question: with so many other standards out there, some (FLAC) with wide support and open so that you know they won't be hijacked as Microsoft is wont to do with their IP ... why use Microsoft's offering?

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 08:27 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
If you look at at boras' posts you see that he offered an advantage of WMA. Yes it is an advantage that does not serve the download market or the iPod sales market. However, in the real world, some people don't own iPods and they would like to listen to their music collection on their home stereo from their computer. It's a small and overlooked market that DOES exist. No one claimed lossless codecs would drive the download business or the sale of iPods, this is an incorrect assumption that you are making as to the subject of boras' posts.

edit: Just for clarification, I don't want WMA or a WMA lossless codec anywhere near my computer, I'm just putting it in perspective from someone who listened to boras' posts.

Yes, it's a small and overlooked market that does exist, but not in the context of iTMS and ipod and whether to adopt WMA, and there are better alternatives without turning to M$.

jettredmont
Jan 12, 2004, 08:29 PM
Originally posted by boros

I don't know about your other point as to many available lossless CODECs for the Mac and Winblows... I've tried a lot of them and and haven't found one I particularly liked.... APE was OK in many cases, though I didn't like the Mac sipport. It should be noted that this was almost a year ago, so APE may have improved on the Mac.

What did you not like about the other codecs? Were they not accurate (ie, not really lossless)? Were the tools archaic? Did the rendering take too long?

greenstork
Jan 12, 2004, 08:30 PM
Originally posted by caddisfly
....but not to pick on you, but you're kidding right?

I just checked my latest rip:
4 minute of audio CD track = 40MB
same track as 192kps MP3 = 5.4 MB

....it seems my lossy compression saved me 8 times the space....which in my case represents 20GB of music vs 160 GB of music.

I'm not kidding but you should also realize that lossless and uncompressed are two entirely different terms. There is such a thing as lossless compression

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 08:33 PM
Originally posted by jettredmont
I can back him up on this one.

Compression ratios depend a LOT on the source material ("flatter"/quieter wave forms compress significantly better than louder or more "jarring" pieces ... compare 35% compressed size of a soft concerto to 85% compressed size of pink noise).

The FLAC codec has a set of comparisons. Doesn't include WMA at all, but I don't think WMA is outside the general range defined in these tests:

http://flac.sourceforge.net/comparison.html

OTOH, this brings up the question: with so many other standards out there, some (FLAC) with wide support and open so that you know they won't be hijacked as Microsoft is wont to do with their IP ... why use Microsoft's offering?

Ok point taken, I generally listen to rock music, guess my compression will be less, but is it not really better uncompressed with 500 GB HD's now and 1 TB HD's on the horizon.

svenas1
Jan 12, 2004, 08:34 PM
Originally posted by greenstork
I hate it when people use car comparisons but in this case, it seems appropriate. BMW doesn't actually make all of the components of their car, indeed most are outsourced. However, by most accounts, BMW still makes cars. The same theory applies to Boeing and on and on.


Yes, I'm well aware of the fact that car manufacturers outsource large parts of production and developing to other companies. But none the less, a company like BMW has engineers devoted to improving essential parts of these components, like the engine, the suspension and the chassis. That is what they are good at, building cars, engineering them to be better, more fuel efficient etc etc (I won't go on, although it might be educative, because I think there is a qualitative difference b/w BMW outsourcing development of components and Apple buying in components)

If Apple needed smaller harddrives for their new mini-mini iPod, for the life of them, they couldn't make them.




Aside from that, a company is not defined by what it develops but rather, by what it sells. That is why in every business listing of Apple, it's called a computer company with many subcategories of software and *hardware*.


Of course, if this weren't the case, we wouldn't be having this argument ! It obviously builds and sells hardware (like the PowerBook I'm typing this on). The question was, in fact, if Apple was in actual fact, despite apparitions to the contrary, a software company. This can - and has - been debated to lengths.

I really don't mind either way, I just think that people who argue that Apple is more of a software company than a hardware company have a good point. It might help understand why Apple will relinquish the music format war only kicking and screaming - if ever. If Apple were only or primarily a hardware companey, they wouldn't care that much, as their chips (which they don't make) could decode either format with equal ease.


Lastly, you're just dead wrong. All Apple computers are designed by Apple engineers, all one has to do is look inside and outside of a new G5 Power Mac to see this. Believe it or not a whole computer is a piece of hardware and not just a sum of its parts. Thank goodness that Apple does *develop* its own hardware or we'd end up with just another beige box.

Yes, there's a beautiful dual 2GHz G5 under my wifes desk. I can (and do ;-) look at it with great joy. Apple designs the case (praise Ive for that), lays out the internal pieces. But they have very little way of influencing the specs of the things that do end up inside. They basically have to take what the market has to offer. Although - having said that, I really would like to know how closely Apple was involved with IBM in developing the G5. Thank whoever was in charge that the Power4 architecture so closely resembled the G4. And that IBM agreed to incorporate Altivec into the single core version and thus make a G5. (This is probably a version too much abridged to be correct - but that's how I understood the birth of the G5)

With regard to developing hardware, the case, yes. The layout of the innards, yes. The innards themselves, no, or very little. I'd like to know which parts were.

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 08:41 PM
C'mon someone disagree with me about something, I've had a beer and like to rant.

MCCFR
Jan 12, 2004, 08:44 PM
Here's the problem: Apple's iPod plays back the popular MP3 audio format as well as the standards-based Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format. But the Apple iTunes Music Store sells songs only in the more limited Protected AAC format, which is compatible only with iTunes and the iPod, giving Apple the type of corporate lock-in for which Microsoft is often (and, in the case of digital media, unfairly) criticized. Incidentally, RealNetworks' recently announced RealPlayer 10 also works with the AAC and MP3 formats (and with Windows Media Audio--WMA--RealAudio, and other formats), but RealNetworks uses yet another completely incompatible AAC version for its music store, a format that doesn't work with iTunes or the iPod or with any other music software . To its credit, however, RealNetworks is offering higher-quality AAC files than the iTunes Music Store offers because most customers will likely want to convert the RealNetworks' AAC files to the more compatible MP3 format for the short term.

Enter HP, which makes a variety of digital-media products, including Media Center PCs, iPAQs, and media set-top boxes--none of which are compatible with the Protected AAC format that HP will be supporting through the iTunes Music Store or with HP-branded iPods. Microsoft representatives I spoke to politely called HP's decision to go with Apple's technology "interesting," although the loser in this situation isn't Microsoft, it's the millions of people who use HP's products now and will use them in the future. "Windows is about choice," Microsoft General Manager of Windows Digital Media Division Dave Fester said during the recent 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. "You can mix and match software and music player stuff. We believe you should have the same choice when it comes to music services." Indeed, this choice characterizes the PC market. Whether the choice is Musicmatch Downloads, Napster 2.0, the Wal-Mart Music Store, or virtually every other online music store, each service uses the same WMA format for the songs users download, and all the songs are compatible with the same range of software and devices--including, incidentally, all the devices, portables, and Media Centers PCs that HP makes.


Wow - where to start?

Rebuttal - One

This argument is circular and self-defeating.

You can only purchase from the iTunes Music Store using the iTunes application, which takes responsibility for managing the download and integration process.

The iTunes application (in conjunction with QuickTime) is responsible for enforcing the DRM on the PC platfom only.

Therefore iTunes/QuickTime is directly analogous to the Windows Media libraries and Windows Media Player. So the real argument here is "How many media playback applications does a single PC need?"

It would appear from market evidence that a significant and growing element of the Windows audience appears to believe that the answer is one more than zero and one less than two, so long as that application is easy-to-use and well engineered.

Hmmm, maybe there's a lesson there but we'll get back to that.


Rebuttal - Two
What's your target here? Real or Apple? AAC or the means that are used to protect the rights-holder?

I would accept the fact that Real has finally come to market with a version of Protected AAC that is incompatible with the FairPlay system that Apple introduced in April 2003 is a prima facie example of the balkanisation that Steve Jobs talks about in his contribution to the HP/Apple press release.

However, Real's Helix DRM is probably designed to be used with the full gamut of the content that Real offer to the market and that's their business.

There's no rule that says that the DRM used by one provider has to be compatible with every other provider and, in reality, heterogeneous diversity may be advantageous from a security perspective.

But again, I suspect that you have another agenda here - or, at best, you are spreading FUD on behalf of Microsoft without questioning their agenda.

Could this sudden commitment to compatible DRM systems have any other motive? Well, the simple answer is 'Yes'!

Could it be that Microsoft desparately wants Apple to adopt a standard DRM for iTMS so that the vendors of Windows Media portable devices can survive and so that users of said devices don't throw them into a bin whilst on their way to the local iPod retailer?

Well that sounds like a starting point, and it explains why MS is so keen on this 'clearing house' concept, despite the fact that it'll take an age to put together.

Or maybe MS now wants a single DRM model, so that the music retailers like Musicmatch and all of the Loudeye stores can have a chance to survive when there is a single hot property in the player market.

Well, that sounds like the other 50% of the reason.

To summarise, Microsoft is desparately trying to muddy the waters around iTunes, iTMS, iPod and AAC so that it can regroup and get another bite of the cherry.

The problem here is that its very difficult to take anything MS says at face value: Apple can be forgiven for not wanting to be the frog to Microsoft's scorpion, simply because the number of instances where MS has preached co-operation whilst practising duplicity are legion and Apple itself has been the victim of Microsoft's plagiarism, bullying and deceipt on too many occasions.


Rebuttal - Three

What you seem to have a problem understanding here is that support for (and compatibility with) the FairPlay-protected form of MPEG-4 AAC is implicit ly contained in the iTunes audio library software. Therefore, install the software and the machine has the support.

However there is no Apple-supplied AAC player for the iPaq - or for any Pocket PC platform - but then Apple has no interest in developing such a piece of software as it has no devices in those segments.

That's not to say that HP may choose to develop that code; MPEG-4 AAC is a specification that can be licensed from Dolby Labs through VIA Licensing, just as MP3 had to be licensed from Fraunhofer and Windows Media has to be licensed from MS.

The FairPlay DRM used in tracks downloaded from iTMS merely act on the PC/Mac platform and is ignored by a number of portable devices, including - but not limited to - phones produced by Nokia.

For you to present any other interpretation is yet another indictment of your type of "journalism", or maybe you're just too lazy to think or do independent research! I know what my opinion is on the subject.

Rebuttal - Four

What absolute drivel. The idea that your average domestic consumer (i.e. the person with a standard computer, a printer and a broadband connection) is any worse off under this arrangement than they were last Monday is disingenuous or - because it's getting late and I'm getting grumpy - an outright lie.

One week ago, HP customers could go and buy an iPod, install the copy of iTunes therein and - assuming that Windows chose not to break - become part of the biggest revolution in recorded music since the Walkman twenty years ago.

But, unlike Windows Media, QuickTime and iTunes don't throw the system into a sulk when they're not being used as the default so the consumer still has the choice to use Windows Media should they so desire.

So if the consumer isn't losing, and MS isn't losing and HP sure as hell isn't losing and the rights-holder isn't losing, just what the hell are we doing here, unless you're fooling yourself and the reality is that MS is losing which I suspect is why we're seeing so much smoke at the moment.



Rebuttal - Five

Windows is about choice.
That's why Windows Media 9 was so late coming out on Macintosh.

That's why OS X users had to wait so long for Exchange support.

That's why MS removed Java support from Windows XP.

That's why MS threatend the EU with a crippled version of Windows if it was forced to decouple Windows Media.

Now, without wishing to criticise, maybe if WMP9 had been released simultaneously onto OS X, some of the WMA stores might have been able to make inroads into the Macintosh market and some of the player manufacturers likewise. The benefit of that is that iPod might have been a bit slower out of the blocks and the WMA supply community wouldn't now be looking down the barrel of a gun. But I'm sure you can find a reason why that wouldn't have been the case.

Again, I would remind you that the market appears to think that one application that's well designed and executed is enough which then forces me to tell you to look up that Einstein quote about things being as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Choice… it's all I can do not to laugh at the hypocrisy.

Rebuttal - Six

More FUD, misdirection and hypocrisy.

Who's the dominant player in this market? iTunes, iTMS and iPod!

Are they cross-platform? Yes.
Combined, do they provide the consumer with an integrated easy-to-use solution for the purchase, management and playback of the consumer's music assets? Yes.
Do they provide a consistent digital rights package to the consumer? Yes.


Are WMA stores accesible on Macintosh systems? No! (oops)

Combined, do they provide the consumer with an integrated easy-to-use solution for the purchase, management and playback of the consumer's music assets? Dell, who resell Creative's player, also provide a store.

Do these solutions work on a Macintosh? No!

Do they provide a consistent digital rights package to the consumer? NO!


To summarise, the Windows vision of choice is most people's idea of confusion and chaos. It certainly is not inclusive and it is nowhere near as elegant.

The remainder of my critique of this piece of flim-flam tomorrow.

louden
Jan 12, 2004, 08:45 PM
Originally posted by boros
... and wouldn't it have been great, if Apple had come out with the lossless flavor before MS. I suspect that Apple's hands were tied for a few reasons:

1. The major growth segment that you pointed out, iPod kids, isn't that concerned with quality.
2. It would've adversely impacted their xx,000 songs on one player messages.
3. It would've tripled the bandwidth and storage costs for the iTunes store.

This is a great thread!

I'd add the record companies would be much more nervous about perfect copies of their songs out there if Apple's DRM was cracked in some way. It's risk avoidance on their part. I don't think they would have gone for ITMS if Apple wanted to offer lossless ripping.

That said, I do want to play ripped CD's on my home network. I just bought a couple of WD 250 GB Hard drives, and am going to mirror them and rip it all. I might wait for AAC lossless though. Does anyone know when that might be available? Is it already?

jettredmont
Jan 12, 2004, 08:45 PM
Originally posted by NusuniAdmin
he said "It would be great" meaning that he thought that would be great if they came out wit that in the future. He did not mean present. read before u post.

Let's review:



It would also gr great if the songs we paid $.99 a piece for were in a format that sounded as good as a CD. WMA lossless gives us that.... .APE gives us that... AAC doesn't.


Originally posted by jettredmont
Where, exactly, are you buying WMA lossless songs for $.99?

No WMA music store I know of is selling lossless. They are all compressed at about 128k, same as Apple's AAC (and comparable quality; different profiles, but it all evens out to about the same quality IMHO).


Trivial sentence reorder (my English teacher would be proud):


WMA lossless gives us songs that sound as good as a CD for which we pay $.99 a piece.


My point was, he is saying that WMA lossless support (in iPod, as is the topic of the thread) would give us $.99 truly CD-quality songs.

Au contrair: WMA music stores don't sell lossless music. Thus, the issue is not presence of an lossless audio codec with the same name as your lossy codec. The issues are:

1) Music stores may not have the bandwidth to sell 5x as large files for the same price (5x overhead approximately ... if Apple pays $0.25/song in bandwidth and storage, then that means a lossless version would cost Apple $1.25, more or less, to get it to your doorstop.)

2) Homes generally don't have the bandwidth for songs that are five times as long. People don't generally want to spend five minutes downloading one song, and dialup ... well, forget it! To sell a reasonable quantity Apple would have to offer both the high-bandwidth and low-bandwidth songs, which is more complexity than I'd be willing to put into an industry-first concept project.

3) Lossless audio can be burned to CD with 100% accuracy (well, close enough ... yes, the burning process will introduce errors). It can then be ripped without DRM with 100% accuracy (again, close enough for nukes). Steve had a hard enough time convincing the RIAA to let go of their jewels, and key in that was the argument that too much quality would be lost in cross-coding any Fairplay restrictions out of the music for most of the public to bother. Lossless would have been an IMPOSSIBLE sell.

In other words: this has NOTHING to do with WMA vs AAC!

The iPod supporting WMA would not fix this. Thus, it is a bogus argument for this discussion.

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 08:49 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
Ok point taken, I generally listen to rock music, guess my compression will be less, but is it not really better uncompressed with 500 GB HD's now and 1 TB HD's on the horizon.

Point taken... just a few other things to think about...

1. Let's assume an average of 50% compression... though actually, you'll probably see 60% (I can check my real-world archive when I get home).
2. If you're like me and you've taken the time to rip using EAC or whatever tool... cleaning the discs, etc., you might want to keep a backup of your files. I definately do not want to rcreate my archive... this took me a very looooong time.

So, uncompressed... when I rip my 1,200 CDS I get (1,200 * 500MB = 600GB)

Next, I add an additional 600GB for backup... now, I'm in the 1.2 TB range.

Using WMA 9 Lossless, I was actually able to get this entire archive on a 250GB HD with room to spare (If I had mostly rock, it would've been larger). I regularly back this archive up onto a second 250 GB and I'm set.

So, actually, in the real world... lossless compression has kept me from having to buy at least 2 250GB external HDs.

Actually, I would've probably had to buy a third HD, given the greater than 50% compression I experienced..

I'm not at home, so I can't see the specifics, but this is the best I can furnish from memory.

So, for me, lossless compression has probably saved me $800 or more.

Also, I can now rest assured that my audio files are archived in the best-possible format with no threat of them being lost.

Just my experience to add some insight into why this is an issue for me, personally. Also, to refer back to my original post... there really is a HUGE difference in quality between any lossy and lossless audio on my stereo system.

svenas1
Jan 12, 2004, 08:53 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
C'mon someone disagree with me about something, I've had a beer and like to rant.

British ARE european.. ;-P


... or, for the sake of this thread,


I also suppose I agree, I don't understand why Apple can't support a lossless codec in iTunes, but I do understand why they don't.

I agree.

(your five quid doesn't entitle you to more of an argument...)

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 08:54 PM
Originally posted by boros
Point taken... I do agree that, for most people, WAV is the way to go.... I just wish I had the money to do it...

1. Let's assume an average of 50% compression... though actually, you'll probably see 60% (I can check my real-world archive when I get home).
2. If you're like me and you've taken the time to rip using EAC or whatever tool... cleaning the discs, etc., you might want to keep a backup of your files. I definately do not want to rcreate my archive... this took me a very looooong time.

So, uncompressed... when I rip my 1,200 CDS I get (1,200 * 500MB = 600GB)

Next, I add an additional 600GB for backup... now, I'm in the 1.2 TB range.

Using WMA 9 Lossless, I was actually able to get this entire archive on a 250GB HD with room to spare (If I had mostly rock, it would've been larger). I regularly back this archive up onto a second 250 GB and I'm set.

So, actually, in the real world... lossless compression has kept me from having to buy at least 2 250GB external HDs.

Actually, I would've probably had to buy a third HD, given the greater than 50% compression I experienced..

I'm not at home, so I can't see the specifics, but this is the best I can furnish from memory.

So, for me, lossless compression has probably saved me $800 or more.

Also, I can now rest assured that my audio files are archived in the best-possible format with no threat of them being lost.

Just my experience to add some insight into why this is an issue for me, personally. Also, to refer back to my original post... there really is a HUGE difference in quality between any lossy and lossless audio on my stereo system.

Fatfish is right, however, for most people, WAVs are the way to go.

... and, if you're entering this thread late, the topic is high-quality archives... you probably would duplicate these files and convert to AAC or MP3 for your iPod. These would be the copies you played on your high-end stereo. Also, if you're stereo and/or ears can't differentiate between a losslessly compressed audio file and a lossy one, then you probably don't have this problem :) You're residing in an "ignorant" state of bliss (This is a complement... I'm jealous).

doogle
Jan 12, 2004, 08:59 PM
Originally posted by caddisfly
Would the ipod be the "thing" without the integration of itunes and the music store in addition to its design, size, etc? I don't think so and so far, the market bears that out.

What came first, the iTMS or the iPod.

We will never know;)

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 09:14 PM
Now I hate M$, don't try to disguise the fact, never use their software, use VPC but won't anymore (now M$ have it), Clarisworks for me, Safari and Mail. Only grudge is I have to return my email attachments as word docs and ask for them as pdf's, won't do business if they don't.

Saying this, I'm conservative and never saw any problem with the M$ monopoly with IE and the rest. If a company have a product, why shouldn't they say who buys it, who they will support etc etc.. (And yes I realise this attitude would have put Apple out of business a few years ago - so what market forces rule OK)

Thing are different now and I can proudly say I have the same attitude towards the Apple monopoly on digital music. Whilst it seems Apple are doing things right for the general user, why should they adopt WMA.

He who rules a company shall have the last say, sod the general public, business is business, Apple don't generally sod the public, but if they did, I'd support them.

Too many people have too many rights nowadays, bring back the days when the monarchy was all powerful and the man in the street would loose his head because of the whim of the royal house.

Jesus, I'm a subject not a citizen and wish to stay that way. Power to Apple and the iPod, let it take over the world.

svenas1
Jan 12, 2004, 09:40 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
Now I hate M$, don't try to disguise the fact, never use their software, use VPC but won't anymore (now M$ have it), Clarisworks for me, Safari and Mail. Only grudge is I have to return my email attachments as word docs and ask for them as pdf's, won't do business if they don't.

Hold firm, it ain't easy.


Too many people have too many rights nowadays, bring back the days when the monarchy was all powerful and the man in the street would loose his head because of the whim of the royal house.

..now you really are looking for an argument.


Jesus, I'm a subject not a citizen and wish to stay that way.

I'm sure her majesty will be pleased at this. I'm glad I'm allowed to be hold a different, more republican, conviction.

desdomg
Jan 12, 2004, 09:41 PM
So I see that the latest M$ FUD that people are buying into is this whole "loss-less" argument.

So we are all meant to think " oh, that Apple music is just so awfully lossy. I wan't some nice M$ loss-less music please". LOL. Cmon people. I know its a slow runour day and folks are still nursing Christmas hangovers but really, get a grip! Remember most folks seemed happy with MP3's not so very long ago.

As to the choice argument, you can now mix and match three different iPods with the iTMS.:p

fatfish
Jan 12, 2004, 09:42 PM
Originally posted by svenas1
British ARE european.. ;-P


... or, for the sake of this thread,



I agree.

(your five quid doesn't entitle you to more of an argument...)

I am not european, I am British, I was born a subject of Her Majesty ~The Queen and will die with that honour/duty, I will never be a citizen of Europe and God forbid we ever have to use that wretched currency. I regard the US as our friend and ali (is that how you spell it).

(Last time I went abroad I was detained at customs for nearly 60 hours because I refused to present a current EU passport, instead offering my out of date British passport. My wife and kids were unimpressed as were the customs and transport police, needless to say I won the day and as a subject of the queen was granted special permission to return to my bithplace and released without charge, although I am now banned from travelling abroad, I believe I made my point. Long live the Queen, God save Winston Churchill.

BTW,,, with the same detrmination I will avoid purchasing M$ products.

Trekkie
Jan 12, 2004, 10:05 PM
Originally posted by boros
Play a lossy format on a pair of B&W Nautilus with Krell amp and you're in for a real letdown.

I'd think anything but SACD on a system as that might sound off in any format. And I'd bet money 9 out of 10 people wouldn't hear what you hear.

Lossy compression on a "good" soundsystem works something like this... parts of the music are accurate and musical, but there are some instraments and passages that are unrecognizeable. You get wierd thumps instead of drum petals... shrieks instead of symbols.

I have a Sony TA-E9000ES Pre-Amplifier and a Sony TA-N9000ES Amplifier running Klipsch Reference (3 Series) speakers. I play MP3 through TiVo encoded with lame and the --r3mix and VBR with 112KB the lowest allowed. Comparing them to the source through my CX555ES Changer my wife was unable to tell the difference, and she has better hearing than I do because of how loud I listened to my walkman as a child.

I don't think 1% of the Audio-listening population should be allowed to be allowed to pick a codec for the rest of us. We prefer not to support formats that pay someone who for all intents and purposes is attempting to turn and burn all media in and out to them so that in 5 years they can suddenly charge a fortune for it and require all sorts of special licensing to unlock each item you wish to use -- both hardware and software.

Am I paranoid? I don't think so. For the record I've been a die hard MS user until 2001 when they did just that with the operating system (Windows XP) I'm a MSCE before the testing companies existed that showed you all the questions.

We're not talking sipping scotch and basking in subtle differences here... we're talking your friend's teeneage kids coming over and saying your system sounds horrible... it is that bad.

It *is* sipping scotch and calling things you don't pay lots of money for inferior. It's like the 200 MPH car. You spend so much money on a negative logarhytmic return by the time you get the 200MPH mark you've spent millions on the engine.

Again, this is a high-resolution audio system... think blowing that 2MP JPEG up to a poster sized image... it looks fine in 4x6, but crappy as a poster.

Your system? Absolutely. The rest of the world? No way. Otherwise Best Buy would sell Krell, B&W, Martin Logans, etc. They sell $500 all-in-one systems with speakers smaller than a deck of cards and people think they're wonderful. WHen they want to get a 'real' system the walk over to the Bose section and through money at cardboard & window screens and think they're buying a killer system.

This creates a real dilemma as, though I love the iTunes interface, I'm forced to archive in huge WAV format files. At least WM9 supports lossless compression. Now I'm stuck with .APE archives, WMA9 Archives and WAV Archives. I have to use utilities to copy and convert batches of my files into MP3 format so they're portable. I also have to maintain seperate archives - not to mention backups of teh primary archives. This process is a complete organizational and disk-devouring nightmare...

No. Offer WAV for people like you and let the hard disk vendors thank you. You make it sound *oh* so burdensome but your love for high end audio makes you need to use these and MS sees you coming a mile away.

There are plenty of alternatives that don't require a *closed* architecture. I would expect from you comments that you'd be a *huge* support off Ogg Vorbis, not WMA. If anything that would be a format we could all live with supportin on the iPod. You'd be happy, and it'd be a royalty free open standard that anyone can tweak to their liking.

The belief is that MS is out to get you, and you may think I'm wearing a tinfoil hat. I've been in the Intel computer industry since 1989 and I've seen what they do. They target a subject, marginalize the competition, and move on.

Their subjugations have been

1988 - 1992 DOS/Windows 3.x vs Mac
1990 - 1995 Windows 3.x vs. OS/2

In parallel we had

1995 - 1999 IE vs Netscape
1995 - 1998 Windows NT vs. Netware
2000 + Windows vs. The Media Industry

They've been trying to get WMA on DVD players over the current MPEG-2 standards. They've bypassed all Anti-Trust legislation by getting a new president elected and getting a slap on the wrist for it instead of true forcing of open standards on them.

IF there was any teeth into the ruling of the MS vs. the world there would have been open, unrevocable access points in things like SMB, and other connectivity options. But as it stands right now they can revoke access to anything in the name of 'security'

So if samba becomes too much of an interoperability threat you'll bet their next version of longhorn breaks all non-MS clients.

Like their old 80s mantra. DOS isn't done until lotus won't run.

killmoms
Jan 12, 2004, 10:05 PM
Can we please end the stupid WMA lossless compression support argument? No matter what, Apple will not support ANY form of WMA unless the iPod and iTMS are absolutely DYING.

If you want lossless compression on your iPod, get Apple to support FLAC or APE, both FREE, OPEN-SOURCE audio codecs that losslessly compress. Much better choice than WMA lossless, because FLAC and APE aren't controlled by anyone, don't require license fees, etc.

I love MP3, LAME VBR with --alt-preset standard is plenty for my iPod (iTunes VBR being equally as good, I can't tell the difference). I'd like OGG support so Linux nerds would buy the iPod and stop bitching to me about how Apple is lame for not including it, but it's not keeping me awake at night. FLAC and APE are a higher priority for me, since they're lossless compression that have more than a snowball's chance in hell of seeing their way into iTunes. Unlike, say, a certain codec made by Microsoft.

--Cless

elgruga
Jan 12, 2004, 10:18 PM
Originally posted by sw1tcher
The iTunes Music Store is merely a loss leader to selling the very profitable iPods. Apple probably knows that they'll never, in the end, dominate the paid music download services, despite the fact that they're doing so now.

Most music services use WMA, and with Microsoft's eventual entry into the music download business, it'll be even more difficult.

Why dont we just close Apple down now, after all, eventually M$ or someone big will crush us anyway?

No offence, buddy, but could you stop the 'inevitability of bad people taking over' rap?

How about M$'s eventual and inevitable downfall?

Apple CAN change the music business, and they can beat M$ - they do now, for crying out loud!

sushi
Jan 12, 2004, 10:20 PM
Originally posted by boros
Ahhh.... so you haven't yet discovered all of the lossless audio online... Tons of it! I agree, however, that a clean LP is still the best format. SACD comes close. CDs are actually quite good, when played from a good CD player.
I saw one for about USD 12,000.

I forget the brand.

But it was a single disc player -- loaded from the top. Only had buttons for play, pause, stop, track forward and track backward.

It was sliver about the size of an 80's audiophile turn table.

Would this qualify as a good player? :D

Sushi

elgruga
Jan 12, 2004, 10:22 PM
Originally posted by fatfish
I am not european, I am British, I was born a subject of Her Majesty ~The Queen and will die with that honour/duty, I will never be a citizen of Europe and God forbid we ever have to use that wretched currency. I regard the US as our friend and ali (is that how you spell it).

(Last time I went abroad I was detained at customs for nearly 60 hours because I refused to present a current EU passport, instead offering my out of date British passport. My wife and kids were unimpressed as were the customs and transport police, needless to say I won the day and as a subject of the queen was granted special permission to return to my bithplace and released without charge, although I am now banned from travelling abroad, I believe I made my point. Long live the Queen, God save Winston Churchill.

BTW,,, with the same detrmination I will avoid purchasing M$ products.

You are kidding right?

Trekkie
Jan 12, 2004, 10:32 PM
Originally posted by sushi
I saw one for about USD 12,000.

I forget the brand.

But it was a single disc player -- loaded from the top. Only had buttons for play, pause, stop, track forward and track backward.

It was sliver about the size of an 80's audiophile turn table.

Would this qualify as a good player? :D

Absolutely, it meets the 3 qualifiers for 'high quality audio'

1) You can't find it at Best Buy
2) It is huge and only does one thing
3) It costs 100 times any other player on the market.

Wonder Boy
Jan 12, 2004, 10:48 PM
good.

d-fi
Jan 12, 2004, 10:56 PM
Ok I have to say this normally I’m a lurker on forums, because most of the time someone else says what I’m thinking sooner or later. But on this subject I feel I have a couple points to speak out about.

If you are playing music on your home pc (as in personal computer Mac or “pc”) and you’re ripping and encoding from your own cds does it’s not going to matter what format you are using if suits your quality needs and you can play your music without a problem?

Personally I have duel-boot win/Linux desktop that store’s my Flac archive of my mere 400 cd’s. But I also have an iBook so multiplatform compatibility is a huge issue. Now I can play Flac files on my iBook (airport extreme is great) but I tend not to want to fill up its hard drive with 20 meg+ files just so I can listen to then through tiny headphones or speakers. So I’ve made a bunch of v.b.r. mp3’s (debated between this and ogg) from my original source files for the iBook and my future to be mp3player and I’m happy with my choice. But worse comes to worse I can always make some ogg files from my source files

And guess what this all works great for me.

Now the majority of people don’t care what format it’s played in as long as it plays easily and sounds good to them.

Why is mp3 the defacto standard on the internet? Because people keep choosing to use it.

The legal download market (the consumers who use the service) will decide on the format is best for them and right now that seems to be AAC but in a year and a half or so we’ll all know.

Microsoft and others are spreading FUD about choosing AAC will result in a lack of choice for them.

Ultimately if consumers choose AAC businesses will be bending over backwards to sell them set top box’s and heaps of other multimedia gadgets that use AAC as a standard, Microsoft might have an edge in this department at the moment but that can change REAL FAST.

(note how most people call them “MP3 players” not WMA or ACC players)

boros
Jan 12, 2004, 11:26 PM
Originally posted by Trekkie
Absolutely, it meets the 3 qualifiers for 'high quality audio'

1) You can't find it at Best Buy
2) It is huge and only does one thing
3) It costs 100 times any other player on the market.

Wow! ... and all of this bashing directed at people that pay attention to the quality of sound from folks that use an OS that garners only 3-5% of the market (Hopefully growing). I, for one, choose to at least shop at Good Guys, vs. Best Buy... OK, I'll admit I sometimes shop a bit higher than that, but I'm sure that 3-5% of audio enthusiasts do... :) Also, you can get pretty good CD player or Universal Palyer (DVD-A, SACD, DVD, CD, etc.) for under $500 now. Not great, but pretty good. One that'll blow away any lossy format.

Regarding WMA, I'd prefer it was an open format... Lossless AAC. The real issue is I want my audio "future-proof" after I'vee gone through the touble of ripping it. Once an open losssless format comes out that iTunes supports, you can believe I'm running a batch process to convert all of my WMAs to that standard!!!

Hmmm.... if I'm settling for mediocre sound, maybe I should just get one of those PCs that the other 90% use??? :)

sushi
Jan 13, 2004, 12:21 AM
Originally posted by Trekkie
Absolutely, it meets the 3 qualifiers for 'high quality audio'

1) You can't find it at Best Buy
2) It is huge and only does one thing
3) It costs 100 times any other player on the market.
:D :D :D :D :D

BTW, the stereo that the CD Player was attached to cost around USD 250,000. Even the short cables between the pre-amp and amp were expensive (about 12 grand)!

...just a bit out of my price range! ;)

Yet I am sure there are some who could explain that they can hear the difference between this system and one that only costs a mere USD 50,000. To each his own.

Sushi

hulugu
Jan 13, 2004, 01:34 AM
Originally posted by boros
Wow! ... and all of this bashing directed at people that pay attention to the quality of sound from folks that use an OS that garners only 3-5% of the market (Hopefully growing). I, for one, choose to at least shop at Good Guys, vs. Best Buy... OK, I'll admit I sometimes shop a bit higher than that, but I'm sure that 3-5% of audio enthusiasts do... :) Also, you can get pretty good CD player or Universal Palyer (DVD-A, SACD, DVD, CD, etc.) for under $500 now. Not great, but pretty good. One that'll blow away any lossy format.

Regarding WMA, I'd prefer it was an open format... Lossless AAC. The real issue is I want my audio "future-proof" after I'vee gone through the touble of ripping it. Once an open losssless format comes out that iTunes supports, you can believe I'm running a batch process to convert all of my WMAs to that standard!!!

Hmmm.... if I'm settling for mediocre sound, maybe I should just get one of those PCs that the other 90% use??? :)

Now don't say anything you will regret. ;)

But, I agree the songs you can buy from the iTMS are not the best quality of what's out there and if you're a music lover who owns a higher end stereo, for now the iTMS is not going to suit your needs. Futhermore, the iPod should support FLAC and Ogg Vorbis for no other reason than it's simple and cheap to do so with a minor firmware update.
But, WMA is a mediocre set of codecs except for its ability to create lossless files. However, for the digital music arena the size of lossless files, not to mention the troublesome complications of the RIAA's involvement mean that lossless files will not appear here as of now.
So, with that in mind you must admit that the iTunes/iTMS/iPod using AAC w/ Fairplay is the best system right now.
And by getting involved with WMA as a standard you immediately get involved with WMP which dooms the Mac community to second-class citizens always under MS sword of damocles so to speak. That's why I disagree so much with WMA going onto the iPod because it creates a situation where MS holds the cards and stops innovating and starts charging or adding DRM schemes. To see the possibilities just look at the .doc format. Has it gotten any better, cheaper, faster in the last 5 years? Would WMA be any different without the threat of Mp3 and now AAC (Mp4).
I think there's a lot at stake here, both for the consumer and for the Macintosh as a viable platform. So for now, I've got an iPod, I'm buying from the iTMS and I'm encoding music at the highest levels AAC will allow. My music sounds very good and I have a nice stereo.

applefans
Jan 13, 2004, 01:37 AM
Originally posted by Spades
Does iTunes for windows rip CDs to AAC? If that's the case, they're not forced to use WMA any more. Technically they never were force to use WMA, but ripping to MP3 took extra effort (i.e. finding a program besides WMP). If iPods were to add another format, I would want it to be flac. Sure the files will be big, but it's an improvement over plain wav files. And the quality is exactly the same as the original file. My second choice is ogg, just because I have a collection of those, and it's taking time to re-rip to AAC.

What does WMA stands for? Weapons for Mass Assassination?

greenstork
Jan 13, 2004, 01:50 AM
Originally posted by Cless
Can we please end the stupid WMA lossless compression support argument? No matter what, Apple will not support ANY form of WMA unless the iPod and iTMS are absolutely DYING.

If you want lossless compression on your iPod, get Apple to support FLAC or APE, both FREE, OPEN-SOURCE audio codecs that losslessly compress. Much better choice than WMA lossless, because FLAC and APE aren't controlled by anyone, don't require license fees, etc.

I love MP3, LAME VBR with --alt-preset standard is plenty for my iPod (iTunes VBR being equally as good, I can't tell the difference). I'd like OGG support so Linux nerds would buy the iPod and stop bitching to me about how Apple is lame for not including it, but it's not keeping me awake at night. FLAC and APE are a higher priority for me, since they're lossless compression that have more than a snowball's chance in hell of seeing their way into iTunes. Unlike, say, a certain codec made by Microsoft.

--Cless

Where do I sign up :D

elgruga
Jan 13, 2004, 02:26 AM
One day M$ wont exist, but then I suppose we'll have to invent it again so we have something to fight against.

I believe it was Jean Genet, the famous French cheese-eating surrender monkey writer, who said:

"Life without resistance is meaningless"

So lets all give it up for M$, the worst software company you can imagine, but wouldnt we be bored without them.

desdomg
Jan 13, 2004, 02:40 AM
Originally posted by fatfish
I am not european, I am British, I was born a subject of Her Majesty ~The Queen and will die with that honour/duty, I will never be a citizen of Europe and God forbid we ever have to use that wretched currency. I regard the US as our friend and ali (is that how you spell it).

(Last time I went abroad I was detained at customs for nearly 60 hours because I refused to present a current EU passport, instead offering my out of date British passport. My wife and kids were unimpressed as were the customs and transport police, needless to say I won the day and as a subject of the queen was granted special permission to return to my bithplace and released without charge, although I am now banned from travelling abroad, I believe I made my point. Long live the Queen, God save Winston Churchill.

BTW,,, with the same detrmination I will avoid purchasing M$ products.


You sound like a bit of a radical, which is fine. But if you were really a loyal subject as you say you would have respected the fact that the UK joined the EU a number of years ago, approved by none less than her very royal Majesty. So actually you are starting to sound like a very disloyal subject, after all. Personally I think you are a looney. Oh, and by the way, the british Royal family is of German descent.

Squire
Jan 13, 2004, 06:50 AM
This has been beaten to death, I know. But I have a couple of points to make:

1) I don't think Apple should support WMA. Sure, it might bring a few more iPod/iTMS users on board. However, I think a lot of people who are reluctant to use AAC could quite possibly be just reluctant to do anything the Apple way. (That's one reason I believe that the HP deal is so significant. It dispels the myth that there's still a cross-platform problem.)

2) For those of you dissatisfied with the quality of compressed audio, why don't you just keep everything in .WAV format? Even with the large file sizes, a 300 GB external hard drive is a drop in the bucket when you're comparing it to the price of any high-end audio equipment.

Look:
-------------------

Mark Levinson No. 36s 20 bit D to A converter
MSRP $6495

B&W Nautilus 803 Main
MSRP $5000

Krell 201 CD Player
MSRP $9000
--------------------

Maxtor 300GB external firewire drive $399
-------------------
Big difference. For that matter, you could even opt for an Xserve RAID with 1 TB of storage for $ 5999. ;)

Squire

Trekkie
Jan 13, 2004, 06:57 AM
Originally posted by boros
Wow! ... and all of this bashing directed at people that pay attention to the quality of sound from folks that use an OS that garners only 3-5% of the market (Hopefully growing).

I wasn't intending that to be bashing at an individual person about paying attention to the quality of music. However I did find it rather flooring that someone would support a closed, proprietary standard over something like Ogg Vorbis.

However I maybe got a bit testy in regards to picking apart the earlier post about how AAC in any form sounds horrible on the rather high end system. There have been enough car comparisions, vacuum comparisons and others tossed out to show why I didn't agree with it and felt it was unfair.

Regarding WMA, I'd prefer it was an open format... Lossless AAC. The real issue is I want my audio "future-proof"

Then I'd say for sure stay away from Microsoft. They'll do something (history proven again) that will make you have to upgrade or re-do to your satisfaction what you've already done.

Sorry if it appeared I was bashing. I meant the three criteria thing as a joke.

McToast
Jan 13, 2004, 07:31 AM
Originally posted by fatfish
I am not european, I am British, I was born a subject of Her Majesty ~The Queen and will die with that honour/duty, I will never be a citizen of Europe and God forbid we ever have to use that wretched currency. I regard the US as our friend and ali (is that how you spell it).

(Last time I went abroad I was detained at customs for nearly 60 hours because I refused to present a current EU passport, instead offering my out of date British passport. My wife and kids were unimpressed as were the customs and transport police, needless to say I won the day and as a subject of the queen was granted special permission to return to my bithplace and released without charge, although I am now banned from travelling abroad, I believe I made my point. Long live the Queen, God save Winston Churchill.

BTW,,, with the same detrmination I will avoid purchasing M$ products.

Total Loony Bin

Iroganai
Jan 13, 2004, 08:44 AM
Mr/Ms fatfish,

I thought the Anglo-Saxons came from Germany... very European I think.
I'll apologize you if you're Welsh or some Celtic origin.


On WMA/AAC,
I think the losslessness is not the issue because those stores selling WMA are selling WMA with loss.

I hope the iTMS come to Japan soon and I can buy music online! As I don't think 128k AAC is not so bad for me, the losslessness is really non-issue. at least for me.

boros
Jan 13, 2004, 10:06 AM
OK, Just a few more advantages of a losless format to think of...

1. WAVs do not work well with airport extreme... oddly-enough, WMA 9 lossless does. As it tend to average ~40% of the stream size, this does the trick for my LAN.
2. Lossless will save you OVER 50% of drive space... this becomes significant when - like me - you make backups of your files (EVERYONE SHOULD DO THIS). So, as I said in an earlier post, this has kep me from having to buy an additional 3 250GB external hard drives... (BIG SAVINGS FOR ME... at least $800 for my 1,200 CDs!). One does not have to own a $10,000 system to tell the difference, just a system that is musical vs. HT-Only focused. (See last point).
3. There are many good lossless compression formats out there... the problem is that the best player in the world, iTunes, supports none of them (reasons posted throughout this thread).
4. While there is an Internet music revolution about, there is also a return to high resolution music (DVD-Audio and SACD will become defacto standard by the RAAC, to ccompat MP3, AAC, etc.). Also, digital amplification will soon make frighteningly-good audio attainable by the masses.
5. Apple, having just released Garage Band, is supposedly targeting musicians - a demographic that is typically more finicky about theeir sound than the general public.
6. People reading this thread should be aware that, should they ever get a good-sounding musical soundsystem, those lossy AACs will actually sound worse on the good system than they did on a poor one. This is the real problem... high-resolution systems are revealing. Just like "garbage-in gargabe-out" in the computer world, high-resolution audio systems tend to amplify and accentuate the "loss" in lossy music. So, you're faced with music where some pieces of a song sound great and other pieces have mysterious and obviously artificial sounds (artifacts) eminating from your speakers. It's not a case where it's not as good as it could be - it's a case where it's complete crap.
7. I think about that person SJ refered to at Macworld - the sucker that spent $29,500 on the iTMS. Almost all of his music would sound horrible on my sub-$5,000 stereo (OK, many components used). I suspect it would sound horrible on many $1,500 stereos (i.e. Rotel integrated with low-end B&Ws... a British soundsystem ;).

So, I'll end by saying...
1. If you're taking the time to rip your own CDs, do so in a lossless format (i.e. APE, WMA9 lossless, etc.). Once ripped, you can use toools to batch convert & copy them to any format you like (i.e. WMA Workshop on Winblows). If WMA goes bust, I can batch convert to WAV with no loss! The problem is that, if I rip them into AAC today, I've already lost a lot of data.
2. If you spend money on the iTMS, you may be wasting money down the road. With higher-resolution audio formats coming down the pike, your ear will get better. This will be akin to having a lot of hissing cassettes sitting around, when re-mastered SACDs are available... actually, it'll probably sound a lot worse than casssettes on many systems.

Sorry to emphasize these points, but I just can't believe M$ does a better job at high-end audio than Apple - what with the Garage-Band thing and all. M$ delivered lossless compresssion over a year ago! Apple could fix this now by enabling APE plug-ins... I suppose, however, this would open up a whole new can of worms (iTMS bandwidth & storage, etc.).

pkradd
Jan 13, 2004, 10:19 AM
From Wired News:

HP Spokesperson says NO WMA support.

Article here:

http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,61897,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1

sushi
Jan 13, 2004, 10:57 AM
Originally posted by pkradd
From Wired News:

HP Spokesperson says NO WMA support.

Article here:

http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,61897,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1
Thanks for the article.

Good to hear! :-)

Sushi

mrsebastian
Jan 13, 2004, 11:17 AM
stick to your guns apple! m$ can take wma and shove it where the sun don't shine :D

nagromme
Jan 13, 2004, 11:23 AM
From MacBytes.com:
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,61897,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1

shamino
Jan 13, 2004, 11:34 AM
Originally posted by Cless
If you want lossless compression on your iPod, get Apple to support FLAC or APE, both FREE, OPEN-SOURCE audio codecs that losslessly compress.
Heck, you could probably just pipe your WAV/AIFF files through gzip. :D

shamino
Jan 13, 2004, 11:58 AM
Originally posted by svenas1
Apple is far more than a software company. But it hardly develops any hardware any more. It develops nearly exclusively software products. All of the hardware - that as you rightly note drive profits - does not stem from Apple. All of the major components come from OEMs. Harddisks, optical drives, displays, CPUs, GPUs, wireless cards, networking chipsets etc etc. Please mention a hardware technology Apple has developed recently ? Firewire comes to mind, but that's about it.
You could use this argument for just about every computer company.

Can you think of a single computer maker in the past 20 years that has made more than a small percentage of their major components?

Not IBM. Not SGI. Not Sun. Certainly none of the PC manufacturers.

The computer industry, by its very nature, is decentralized. All of the components you consider major are commodity parts that are generally manufactured by companies specializing in those parts.

For the PC market, the innovation shows up in the assembly. Some companies do a lot of work to make sure that all of the components are compatible with each other. Some do a lot of research in developing an effective airflow/cooling solution. Industrial design for cases and peripherals is not insignificant either. To deny all this work is to deny that there is any difference between a Sony W-series desktop (http://www.sonystyle.com/intershoproot/eCS/Store/en/imagesProducts/250x250/PCVW500GN1.jpg) and a generic system (http://global.acer.com/products/desktop/images/inner_main_apst.gif) that is entirely off-the-shelf.

For the non-PC market, you also have the innovation that comes with motherboard design. (I realize that some PC makers still design their own motherboards, but most do not.) Choosing the processors and chipsets and designing the boards that make it all work together. Plus all the factors that come in to play in the PC market.

Your claim that Apple isn't a hardware company because they don't build their own hard drives and CPU chips is just silly. By that definition, no computer maker in existance qualifies as a hardware company.

svenas1
Jan 13, 2004, 12:24 PM
Originally posted by shamino
You could use this argument for just about every computer company.

Can you think of a single computer maker in the past 20 years that has made more than a small percentage of their major components?



There is a question of degree here. What percentage of the hardware it sells does Apple make ? And how does it compare to IBM ? What level of investment does Apple have in manufacturing plants, and hardware versus software engineers ? I don't know, but we might be in for a surprise. Maybe even me, their stake may be higher than I acknowledge.


Not IBM. Not SGI. Not Sun. Certainly none of the PC manufacturers.

Your claim that Apple isn't a hardware company because they don't build their own hard drives and CPU chips is just silly. By that definition, no computer maker in existance qualifies as a hardware company.

I never said Apple was not a hardware company. It sells hardware. What I said was that it hardly develops hardware. Apart from the case and the mobo. I am just trying to extricate the reasons Apple is so intent on keeping WMA out of the iPod.

The question about the development is quite crucial for a company which is so intricately linked with innovation. As hard as it may be for Apple on their own to come up with a better CPU / GPU / RAM architecture - you name it, anything that will actually compell anyone to buy a Mac over a PC - what Apple can do is innovate and develop software. This is their unique contribution. That is where Jobs genius and his vision show. I'm not saying Rubinstein isn't pushing for higher memory I/O bandwidth, or making sure Airport actually works. As I said in my previous post, Apple is more than a software company. It is a question of degree, and I think many people are under the impression Apple can do more on the hardware side than they actually can.

YMMV,
S.

ropbo
Jan 13, 2004, 12:53 PM
Just supposing that Apple decides in the future to support WMA on the iPod. Technically speaking, would that be possible through a simple firmware update or they would need to release a new iPod ?

Reality
Jan 13, 2004, 01:03 PM
My opinion of this, which will not take in to account any of the other posts, is Apple is shooting its self in the foot by demanding iTunes to use an iPod. By not supporting WMA, Apple is pushing microsoft away from the music market until they, or some one else, supply a cheap mp3/wma/a whole lot more player.

How to kill the iPod? Make a 'swiss army player' that is smaller and sleeker.

BTW, anyone know about the touch screen iPod rumor?

wombat2
Jan 13, 2004, 01:25 PM
I thought that Apple was all for supporting multiple standards.

If Apple doesn't support WMA and doesn't work with the MSN music store coming later this year, they are going to lose market share, maybe precipitously.

There is much talk here about how Apple has the majority of the market share and can set the standards. You need to realize that this is a market in its infancy. Apple has a big slice of the pie, but it's a tiny pie. The pie is about to get a LOT bigger, and that'll be due to entries from Microsoft, Wal-Mart and lots of other companies.

Do you have any idea how many people have MSN as their default Internet Explorer home page?

I run a commercial Web site. According to our stats, as of yesterday, 95.7% of our traffic came from various versions of Windows.

shamino
Jan 13, 2004, 02:06 PM
Originally posted by wombat2
If Apple doesn't support WMA and doesn't work with the MSN music store coming later this year, they are going to lose market share, maybe precipitously.
Your statement has an implicit assumption that MSN's foray into downloadable music will inevitably be a success. This is far from certain.

With the exception of Windows and office, MS's products have not been market-killing successes. MSN has repeatedly failed to take the ISP business from AOL. The XBox has not killed the PlayStation. And a huge number of WMA-only music download sites is not killing ITMS.

The attitude of "conform to Microsoft or die" only makes sense in those areas where Microsoft is dominant. In the music business, they are not. By conforming to Microsoft's spec (which is far more proprietary than their own), Apple gains close to nothing, and they give their competition a tremedous advantage.
There is much talk here about how Apple has the majority of the market share and can set the standards. You need to realize that this is a market in its infancy. Apple has a big slice of the pie, but it's a tiny pie. The pie is about to get a LOT bigger, and that'll be due to entries from Microsoft, Wal-Mart and lots of other companies.
Again, you are assuming that everything Microsoft does will always become the market dominating standard. It just doesn't work that way.
Do you have any idea how many people have MSN as their default Internet Explorer home page?
So? Most of them aren't paying any money to MSN. Most of them view that page from their AOL and Earthlink accounts.
I run a commercial Web site. According to our stats, as of yesterday, 95.7% of our traffic came from various versions of Windows. Owning the most popular operating system doesn't guarantee that you will end up owning everything else.

What do your web stats say about the ISP's your traffic comes from? How much of that is MSN?

Reality
Jan 13, 2004, 02:12 PM
True, but WMA is a dying file. One thing I need to note though, music threaters are starting to use microsoft compression formats for video and 90k projectors hooked up to a single PC. One DVD disk equals a full length movie on a full sized movie screen with no signs of pixels when it is compressed by a microsoft team. Sucks dont it? What next? Mini WMA files?

I am against the idea of iPod working with WMA, or anything to do with walmart, but no matter what, it is something that would ensure the iPod surviving. I am torn, because if the iPod works only with iTMS and iTunes, more people will dl iTunes and see how apple is better. But without WMA file compatability, iPods could become a no one player.

I guesse the pie idea is a good one, but look at it this way. It will force people to choose iPod or Walmart. MP3 and AAC or WMA.

One thing I am sure of though, GET iTMS TO DENMARK BASTARDS!

CalfCanuck
Jan 13, 2004, 02:12 PM
Originally posted by wombat2
Do you have any idea how many people have MSN as their default Internet Explorer home page?

I run a commercial Web site. According to our stats, as of yesterday, 95.7% of our traffic came from various versions of Windows.
Isn't this the reason for the HP deal, to create more links on the desktops of PC users?

While you are correct that most web browsers are PCs, I think that anyone who downloads digital songs and transfers them onto an external device has to be a fairly technical user. I always use my Mother as a sample - could she do this? NO!

So just saying that everyone has a Win Internet Explorer browser is quite different than maintaining that MS will create a user-freindly, seamless experience.

While I'm pretty ambivalent about whether or not WMA should be supported on the iPod, just because Apple refuses to support it doesn't translate into failure for Apple.

MCCFR
Jan 13, 2004, 02:39 PM
During CES, I asked HP representatives how the company would respond to the widespread incompatibilities that its new Apple relationship would cause, and I generally understood that during the ensuing few months, the company would work to iron out some of the details. A contact close to HP told me point blank that HP was requiring Apple to add WMA support to the iPod, a feature that's natively enabled in the iPod's firmware but that Apple disables before the units ship to customers. If it happens, this requirement will solve some of the incompatibility problems. However, with HP getting a portion of the profits from the songs its customers purchase from the iTunes Music Store, a bigger concern centers on how HP will make its many products compatible with the closed and proprietary Protected AAC format Apple uses.

In the HP booth at CES, employees clearly had been briefed about the technological concerns, but I got the impression that none of them actually had a handle on the problems. When I asked an HP representative how the company would solve the incompatibility problems, he told me, incorrectly, that the Protected AAC files users download do, in fact, work on HP's products and that converting them is a simple task if they don't.

Even HP executives are downplaying, if not outrightly misrepresenting, the seriousness of this problem for the company's customers, most of whom won't understand why their music and devices refuse to play nice together. "The next big thing isn't the next gizmo or killer app or hot box," HP CEO Carly Fiorina told "The New York Times." "Customers want all this to work together, and they want a seamless approach. We're very much going to make sure that the Microsoft and Apple worlds work together. That's part of the power we bring to this thing." I hope she's right, but the widespread use of WMA in the Windows world makes the necessity of this daunting task seem almost pointless. In the week that HP announced its blockbuster deal with Apple, Microsoft announced shipping schedules for the Portable Media Centers and set-top boxes that will remotely access Media Center PC content around a home and on the road--both supported, as usual, by a range of hardware companies. Again, choice is what we expect in the PC industry, and HP seems to have given up this choice for a chance to temporarily grab headlines and go with a single, incompatible, portable digital-audio hardware vendor.

Rebuttal - One

Paul, no disrespect - but you still haven't made a case as to where there are incompatibilities, let alone whether they are widespread or not! There is a difference between something that is incompatible and simply not supporting something.

Incompatible is where an instance of 802.11g that is shipped before the standard is ratified doesn't work with a device shipped post-ratification. What I think you've got you Calvins in a knot over is the fact that iTunes, iTMS and iPod don't support WMA and appear to not have support on the roadmap.

Maybe we'd find you easier to believe if you were a little finer on the detail as opposed to coming up with more general scaremongering.

Rebuttal - Two

There you go using that incompatible word again - see my section above - and trying to create some vision of widespread interoperability problems.

Let's be clear here - if you have an application that accesses the QuickTime libraries and it has been programmed correctly, it will support MP4 AAC in both Protected and standard form.

Once again, you are spreading FUD either knowingly to serve a known agenda - which is what many in the Apple community suspect - or unknowingly to serve someone else's agenda - which simply makes you appear too lazy to do wider research corroborated by multiple sources.

All you have to do to rebut these accusations is come up with some valid objections that cannot be dispelled easily. Assuming your integrity is important to you in any way.

Rebuttal - Three

I'm not disputing that HP makes many products, but the question is how many of them are relevant to the question.

So let's dispel scanners, DDS drives and printers for a start. Actually, what we're talking about is devices where you would use audio.

HP has chosen to present its customers with a self-contained music ecosystem using iPod, iTunes, iTMS and QuickTime. That takes care of all of the major consumer desktop and laptops, both of which exclude the any form of Tablet PC.

This merely leaves the iPaq: here you have a point, although given that iTunes doesn't enforce the DRM on many handheld devices - such as Nokia phones - the question actually appears to be "Does Microsoft's version of choice extend to supporting MPEG-4 AAC, given that it is a member of the MPEG Industry Forum?".

Of course, if Microsoft's Media Player for PocketPC doesn't adhere to standards adequately maybe that's an issue you should address to Microsoft.


Rebuttal - Four

Wow, Paul, that's a little strong - that sounds like you are accusing the officers of a major corporation of lying! I'd take that to the SEC, or the Better Business Bureau if you have one scintilla of evidence to back up that claim.

But the problem is you don't have that evidence: People buy hardware and formats to match the content they want to use, not the other way round - and so far, the content they want to use is MP3 - when self-encoding - and MPEG4 AAC - when purchasing from the outside world.

You cannot argue with this point: WMA music stores share much of their content with iTMS, and yet - despite the financial arguments and the alleged diversity in the Windows market - the customer (the most important element in the equation) has voted with their wallets to use iTMS in fully 70% of instance.

The dramatic bias of the marketplace towards iTMS and Protected AAC should have convinced any reasonable marketing and product development function that WMA simply is not popular in the marketplace and yet, for reasons passing understanding, Microsoft persists in flogging a dead horse by convincing OEM customers to produce products that the end consumer does not want.

This is the Betamax/VHS war all over again, except - for once - MS gets to play Sony to Apple's JVC. Apple has the content, the format and the hardware that people want - MS merely has content, a coherent format with a byzantine set of digital rights, and poorly designed hardware that does not meet the aspirations of the end customer from a price/performance perspective.

WMA is a discredited format and the much-vaunted 'choice' has failed to engage the consumer, therefore these questions should be aimed at MS:

"Why do you persist in trying to control every aspect of the digital world with monolithic, closed products based around an overpriced, insecure operating system?"

"Why has Microsoft - which has membership of MPEG Industry Forum - failed to contribute anything of value back to the forum?"

From my point of view, Microsoft's behaviour is at best equivocal and, at worst, parasitic. When combined with numerous allegations made against MS in the past (Stac, Sendo, and numerous others), it is hard not to derive an abusive pattern of behaviour and thus favour the latter conclusion.

Rebuttal - Five

Unmitigated nonsense and hyperbole. Where is this widespread usage of WMA?

Not in the legal downloads market, where - since the inception of Windows support -Apple's iTMS is now serving three times as many tracks daily than when it was solely a Macintosh service.

As previously stated, iTMS has 70% of the market so a simple extrapolation would imply that around 45% of the market are Windows users who prefer MPEG4 AAC and 25% of the markets are Macintosh users who - because WMA stores choose not to make themselves available to that community.

Therefore, in the legal downloads space, Windows users choose by a 66%/33% split to use AAC and that number seems destined to grow.

Which brings us to the illegal downloads market. Now please tell me that your case is not built on the illegal trading of copyrighted material, although - given MS's history of 'co-opting' (I'm being polite) other companies' technologies - it would be ironic if WMA was the file trader's format of choice.

I'm not even going to dignify this element of the market with any respect for their future needs. They are thieves who need to pick a format and need to start paying for their entertainment. So, if they're the customers you're talking about, save your breath.

So all that remains is the home encoding market: now there will be those whose aural capabilities demand that they use WMA Lossless as an archival format, but I would imagine that they're in a small minority to those who use MP3 as a multi-purpose format for archival and portable use.


And to close:
single, incompatible, portable digital-audio hardware vendor

Now, your slip is showing!

Again you use the "incompatible" word, and now Apple is just a portable digital-audio hardware vendor, where I'm sure you meant to write: "creator and promoter of the industry-defining and market-leading iTunes Music Store, which completed the development of the first truly integrated digital music solution"

By the way, have I mentioned that iTMS has 70% of the downloads market and iPod has 50% of the player by value and 30% by units.

If HP ship another 375,000 units a quarter and Apple ship - let's say 200,000 iPod mini units, the iPod and its variants will have 50% of the market by volume and dominate the market by value.

That's de facto market dominance by anyone's definition!

At that point, maybe MS and their OEMs should reconsider their strategy!

wombat2
Jan 13, 2004, 02:43 PM
I make no claims that failure or success is assured or impossible regardless of this level of choice.

However, WMA is a major player, probably second-biggest song format after mp3, in terms of the numbers of files floating around and being used on a daily basis around the country.

I know one person who owns an iPod and I know a couple of people who would be more likely to buy one if it supported WMA, since that is what their computers create, by default, when they put in a CD and click the button to "copy songs to hard drive".

Which are people more likely to do? Switch computers and operating systems so they can use a nicer music store interface? Or opt to buy a different mp3 device because it works better with their existing music libraries?

In one year, Apple's market share will be under 20 percent, if they are not aggressive in this area. Maybe they're okay with that. They are profitable with a small computer market share, so maybe they are willing to have a small but high-end iPod market. However, they COULD take moves that would potentially let them continue to dominate upscale mp3 player hardware sales for years to come.

maradong
Jan 13, 2004, 02:50 PM
Macbidouille claims that HP has said that they are not working on WMA support for te ipod, and are not asking for wma support on the ipod.
HP seems to take apple s way in the music codec and music store market.
That s probably the best sollution for apple as well, as introducing wma support for the ipod would be contra-productiv.

gd n8

svenas1
Jan 13, 2004, 03:06 PM
Originally posted by wombat2

In one year, Apple's market share will be under 20 percent, if they are not aggressive in this area. Maybe they're okay with that. They are profitable with a small computer market share, so maybe they are willing to have a small but high-end iPod market. However, they COULD take moves that would potentially let them continue to dominate upscale mp3 player hardware sales for years to come.

The point is, if they adopt WMA, they are handing substantial control over to MS. That means, they are no longer in control ! MS is. That is what this format war is all about. There is only one way Apple can keep on top of this game, and that is to get AAC into the hands of as many people, as fast as possible.

It's a tight-rope walk, for sure. People need to buy the iPod - and some may want wma on it. At the same time, if AAC finds enough distribution without support for wma, then those that want wma will have to accomodate Apple. It's a matter of who is able to grow faster. Think Pepsi, think HP. Think iPod mini. There is probably more down the line. It's about keeping wma out, while getting as many people on board as possible. If the iPod supports wma, MS has Apple just where they want them. Then there is no stopping wma's growth. It's over then.

shamino
Jan 13, 2004, 04:28 PM
Originally posted by wombat2
However, WMA is a major player, probably second-biggest song format after mp3, in terms of the numbers of files floating around and being used on a daily basis around the country.
Not in terms of what people are purchasing. I have no idea what's floating around the illegal file sharing networks.
I know one person who owns an iPod and I know a couple of people who would be more likely to buy one if it supported WMA, since that is what their computers create, by default, when they put in a CD and click the button to "copy songs to hard drive".
And if these people download the free iTunes, then their computers will create AAC files, by default, when they put in a CD and click the button to "copy songs to hard drive."

You aren't describing anything unique to Microsoft.
Which are people more likely to do? Switch computers and operating systems so they can use a nicer music store interface? Or opt to buy a different mp3 device because it works better with their existing music libraries?
Or maybe do nothing more than download a free media player that isn't made by Microsoft.
In one year, Apple's market share will be under 20 percent, if they are not aggressive in this area.
They said the same thing about AOL when they introduced MSN. They said the same things about Sony and Nintendo when they introduced the XBox.

Come back and show me this post a year from now. Until then, it's nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of Microsoft's marketing department and a belief in Microsoft's mythical ability to take over everything it touches on your part.

wombat2
Jan 13, 2004, 04:50 PM
They said the same thing about AOL when they introduced MSN. They said the same things about Sony and Nintendo when they introduced the XBox.

These aren't great examples:

- Microsoft has met its sales goals for the Xbox. No one realistically thought the Xbox would outsell the PlayStation 2 in the foreseeable future. Xbox 2 vs. PlayStation 3 may be a more interesting battle, since by that point, the Sony legacy advantages will be eroded. However, this is an expensive hardware purchase that does not depend on any sort of compatibility with your computer system. Windows doesn't work any better with the Xbox than with the PS2, since it doesn't even try to work with either.
- I don't know if MSN was expected to overtake AOL; I doubt it, but maybe. However, this again is only partly related to the OS. They both run fine on the OS.

People could download iTunes, but there's no compelling reason to do that until AFTER you buy an iPod. BEFORE you buy an iPod, the path of least resistance is to make .wma files. Lots of people, including me, have substantial .wma file collections that we have made from our own legally purchased CDs. I personally would have bought an iPod last year if it did .wma. At this point, I like iTunes enough that I am probably willing to buy an iPod anyway, but .wma support would make it an easy decision for me. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

As for the MSN people - they will see a link to "buy legal WMA music files online right now", and they will think "wow, I never thought about that before." Presto, 60% market share for Microsoft. Granted, this will be a relatively low-end, computer-illiterate group that might not be fertile ground for iPod sales anyway. But to ignore it is very risky. Combined with more computer-savvy people who happen to have .wma files accumulated, the prospects of this turning into a major issue are, in my opinion, high.

spook
Jan 13, 2004, 04:52 PM
AAC this
WMA that

Why not jut stick with MP3 which totally usable by everyone, whichever machine they are using without anyone getting their knickers in a twist whos format is goign to win.

Microsoft/Apple/WMA/AAC instead of each other trying to play hardball with each other should have just with everyone else got together and improved MP3 (and yes I know, AAC is supposidly MP4) its sad that everything has to come down to control, whether its Microsoft or Apple, the only losers are us

wombat2
Jan 13, 2004, 04:54 PM
It would have been nice if everyone had stuck with .mp3, from a consumer perspective, but it's not viable in terms of legal music downloads, due to the lack of copyright protection.

spook
Jan 13, 2004, 04:58 PM
maybe Apple should have marketed its AAC as MP4 and rode on the back on of the MP3 legacy

wombat2
Jan 13, 2004, 05:06 PM
Maybe, although I think .wma came out before .aac (not sure about that). .wma definitely came out before the iPod. This might help with marketing clout, although it wouldn't matter for the legacy music library issues.

I can understand Apple wanting to use a format that a rival does not control. However, what I don't understand is why they can't use their format by default, but then also support other formats. The money's in the hardware, or maybe the music and lyrics - not the codecs.

shamino
Jan 13, 2004, 05:09 PM
Originally posted by wombat2
- Microsoft has met its sales goals for the Xbox. No one realistically thought the Xbox would outsell the PlayStation 2 in the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, Microsoft and its advocates were claiming that the XBox would render everybody else obsolete and out of business.
I don't know if MSN was expected to overtake AOL
Again, it was expected (according to MS and its fans) to supplant everybody else. The argument was "why would anybody use another service when this one comes preloaded into Windows?"
People could download iTunes, but there's no compelling reason to do that until AFTER you buy an iPod. BEFORE you buy an iPod, the path of least resistance is to make .wma files.
Of course, in the case of HP (remember them? This thread was supposed to be about them?), iTunes will be preloaded. So their customers will be generating AAC files along the path of least resistance.

Let us not also forget your statement that prompted me to mention the iTunes download:
Which are people more likely to do? Switch computers and operating systems so they can use a nicer music store interface?
I don't know about you, but I consider downloading iTunes to be a lot easier and a lot less problematic than switching computers and operating systems.
As for the MSN people - they will see a link to "buy legal WMA music files online right now", and they will think "wow, I never thought about that before." Presto, 60% market share for Microsoft.
And I still think that this is wishful thinking. Microsoft has been putting instant sign-up-for-MSN icons on the Windows desktop for years and it hasn't made them even close to a market dominator.

The fact is, aside from Windows and Office, the only products that Microsoft has dominated the marketplace with are the ones they gave away for free (like Internet Explorer).

wombat2
Jan 13, 2004, 05:19 PM
Of course, in the case of HP (remember them? This thread was supposed to be about them?), iTunes will be preloaded. So their customers will be generating AAC files along the path of least resistance.

Quick note - the thread is about iPods and WMA. Check the thread title. The HP version is the most visible part of that discussion, perhaps.

As for your other points -

Microsoft probably said of the Xbox the same thing anyone says when they introduce a new product, that it's better than the competition. (Which in this case is true, in all measurable ways.) However, Microsoft didn't have any advantage over Sony in selling Xboxes; their Windows near-monopoly makes no difference in that market.

As for MSN - perhaps you don't often use Windows computers, or maybe you do, I dunno. However, Windows typically contains several icons that link to ISPs. This includes AOL and MSN. The monopoly can't be exerted for this, due to potential legal issues.

This is different in that there are (at least so far) no legal issues relating to .wma. The monopoly leads to substantial use of .wma; basically, if you have Windows and you do not have an iPod, there is no reason NOT to use .wma.

Again, I'm not saying Apple should drop .aac and switch to .wma. I am saying that Apple should use .aac by default, but also support other major formats, primarily including .mp3 and .wma. It makes sense for users and it makes sense for Apple.

shamino
Jan 13, 2004, 05:30 PM
Originally posted by wombat2
I can understand Apple wanting to use a format that a rival does not control. However, what I don't understand is why they can't use their format by default, but then also support other formats. The money's in the hardware, or maybe the music and lyrics - not the codecs. The reason is simple.

Microsoft has a very long history of using "embrace and extend" to take over a market and kick out competitors.

That's how they got rid of Netscape. They shipped their own browser that supported all of Netscape's features (including plugin support). Then they released their own competing tech (Active X and non-standard extensions to HTML and JavaScript). Then they modified their FrontPage package to generate web sites that would deliberately break Netscape (by producing broken HTML that IE would be able to parse anyway.) Then they deleted the Netscape-compatibility features (and did it as a part of a security update, so customers really couldn't choose to refuse it.) Then they began the ad campaigns claiming that Netscape is incompatible with popular web pages.

They did the same thing with Java, but Sun screamed bloody murder and filed suit. Which is why MS is now trying to convince everybody to use ".NET" - it's MS's attempt to take the applet business away from Sun, now that they can't ship proprietary versions of Java.

And now they're doing it with WMA. Their goal is to convince everybody in the world to use WMA. Then they'll take other actions to prevent people from using other formats. They may decide to withhold WMA licenses from vendors that choose to support competing formats. This action may take other forms, but it will happen. But they can't do this until after WMA is firmly entrenched as a universal standard - otherwise their customers will reject them.

If Apple chooses to use WMA, then Microsoft will see their standard in use on just about every computer and media player there is. And when the standard is entrenched enough (so that people will be unable/unwilling to re-purchase/re-rip their collections), they will start taking aggressive actions against their competitors - using the WMA license as their weapon. And Apple will have no choice but to abandon AAC, ITMS, and all the good stuff that goes with them. And companies like HP that don't buckle under may also be punished, using the Windows/Office licensing terms as a weapon.

(You may want to note that Microsoft has done this many times before. When Win95 came out, IBM was refused a license until the day before its release, because IBM was bundling Lotus SmartSuite and not MS Office. And when they finally did get the Win95 license, they were charged 50% more per copy than other PC vendors.)

Apple knows all about Microsoft's business tactics. If Apple starts supporting WMA, then it will be the beginning of the end of Apple's entire digital music business. While this might be a valid thing to do out of desparation, it is not something you do when you are holding the largest share of the market.

CalfCanuck
Jan 13, 2004, 07:18 PM
Originally posted by shamino
The reason is simple.

Microsoft has a very long history of using "embrace and extend" to take over a market and kick out competitors.

That's how they got rid of Netscape. They shipped their own browser that supported all of Netscape's features (including plugin support). Then they released their own competing tech (Active X and non-standard extensions to HTML and JavaScript). Then they modified their FrontPage package to generate web sites that would deliberately break Netscape (by producing broken HTML that IE would be able to parse anyway.) Then they deleted the Netscape-compatibility features (and did it as a part of a security update, so customers really couldn't choose to refuse it.) Then they began the ad campaigns claiming that Netscape is incompatible with popular web pages.

....

Apple knows all about Microsoft's business tactics. If Apple starts supporting WMA, then it will be the beginning of the end of Apple's entire digital music business. While this might be a valid thing to do out of desparation, it is not something you do when you are holding the largest share of the market.
Excellent post. Oh yes, Apple knows FIRST HAND.

Don't forget that they did EXACTLY the same thing with Quicktime 2.5 and 3.0 for Windows, because MS didn't want to give up control of the digital video market. It TOTALLY screwed up te entire multimedia industry in 1994-95, who only wanted to ship cross platform products.

Windows would demand your machine had the exact QT version that the CD-ROM's QT movies were made in. If they didn't match, all the user had to do was uninstall the current version of QT on their computer and install the "needed" version.:rolleyes:

Like every user would uninstall and reinstall QT versions whenever they wanted to change a CD-ROM.

Well, suddenly the the problems mysteriously disappeared, right about the time the US antitrust investigation appeared. Years later, during the trial, this QT nonsense was some of the most sorid and damning tetimony about MS. Paper and email trails galore - the technical press reporting the trial had a field day.

So while the general press made it all out to be a "browser" war (how many average users or newspaper readers even gave a rip about some crazy digital video nonsense), this QT issue went to the heart of how MS operated and probably stuck in the judge's mind as he became such an anti-MS foe.

So Apple is right back there again, with QT 6 now. Believe me, Apple understands that MS will screw them given the chance.

And don't believe I'm just some MS hating geek. I'm pretty ambivalent about them as a platform (as a developer, most of my users are based in that world). But you sure as hell wouldn't want your daughter to be marrying someone with their sense of fair-play. Neither would you want them to be in charge of your software standards if you had any say whatsoever.

wombat2
Jan 14, 2004, 09:25 AM
The "embrace and extend" strategy is used by most companies in most industries that hold monopolies. Perhaps it would be a problem in the future for Apple; however, I can't realistically see how. If they make their player that uses AAC but also supports WMA, then what is MS going to do to make them stop using AAC? All of the Mac users are still going to be doing AAC, so at worst, MS could make it hard for Apple to retain the Windows segment of the audience. Guess what, that's going to be difficult anyway, once there are numerous options for mp3 players and playlist managers, some of which support all of the formats while Apple supports only politically preferred formats.

As a sidenote, I was getting the impression in this thread that MSN had flopped. It didn't seem correct to me, but I didn't know enough about the numbers to debate the point. However, I checked our Web site's stats. We don't get a list of ISPs, just a list of IP addresses, and I'm not going to invest the time to translate all of those by hand. :) However, we do get stats on "links from an Internet search engine".

In those numbers, Google is #1 with 32.5% of our links from Internet search engines. MSN is #2 with 24.4% of the links. Yahoo is #3 at 20.3%. AOL is #4 at 11.6%.

I do not claim that this is closely tied with market share (lots of the MSN searches happen because Internet Explorer defaults to MSN as its homepage) but it does make me think that MSN has not flopped.

Re: Xbox, I read the other day that Microsoft expects sales to reach 14 million this summer. The Xbox was released in 2001. The iPod was also released in 2001, I think. It seems I heard that about 2 million iPods have been sold. I know, different types of markets, but still.

The only true flop I can think of by Microsoft, outside of their normal business of OSes and software, is Ultimate TV.

shamino
Jan 14, 2004, 10:02 AM
Originally posted by wombat2
The "embrace and extend" strategy is used by most companies in most industries that hold monopolies. Perhaps it would be a problem in the future for Apple; however, I can't realistically see how. If they make their player that uses AAC but also supports WMA, then what is MS going to do to make them stop using AAC? All of the Mac users are still going to be doing AAC, so at worst, MS could make it hard for Apple to retain the Windows segment of the audience.
And therefore capture the majority of the online music business for themselves.

Apple has historically been a niche player. You're recommending policies to guarantee that this never changes.
As a sidenote, I was getting the impression in this thread that MSN had flopped. It didn't seem correct to me, but I didn't know enough about the numbers to debate the point. However, I checked our Web site's stats. We don't get a list of ISPs, just a list of IP addresses, and I'm not going to invest the time to translate all of those by hand. :) However, we do get stats on "links from an Internet search engine".

In those numbers, Google is #1 with 32.5% of our links from Internet search engines. MSN is #2 with 24.4% of the links. Yahoo is #3 at 20.3%. AOL is #4 at 11.6%.

I do not claim that this is closely tied with market share (lots of the MSN searches happen because Internet Explorer defaults to MSN as its homepage) but it does make me think that MSN has not flopped.
According to Microsoft's 2002 financial analyst meeting report (http://www.microsoft.com/msft/download/FY02/MehdiFAM2002.ppt) (sorry it's PowerPoint), AOL's market share is 35.5%, and MSN's is 7.2%. AOL's revenues are $2.7B, while MSN's is $557M.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find 2003 figures with a web search. They're probably not available to the general public at this time.

They're certainly not dying, but they're also a long way away from their claims of being able to dominate the market.

jettredmont
Jan 14, 2004, 12:30 PM
Originally posted by Trekkie

So if samba becomes too much of an interoperability threat you'll bet their next version of longhorn breaks all non-MS clients.

Like their old 80s mantra. DOS isn't done until lotus won't run.

Way off subject, but you're not talking a theoretical occurence here. Microsoft broke SMB once already by switching to an encrypted password system. And XP just doesn't talk with SMB 3 very well ...