March 19, 2008
The once haughty recorded music industry has finally collapsed under the weight of its own greed and inefficiency. We can officially call the industry dead, not when the companies are shuttered (because a number of them will survive), but when their main business model is radically different. According to an article in todays Financial Times the music industry is edging ever closer to signing a deal with Apple Computers which may do just that.
The article discusses a deal the two sides are trying to hammer out to shift the labels economics from collecting money based on the number of songs/CD’s that are sold to collecting money based on the number of iPod’s or iPhone’s thats are sold. Its a complex deal that the article emphasizes may not get done, however for the labels to even consider it highlights how very desperate they’ve become. This deal would certainly spell the end of the traditional record labels as their status as added value intermediaries (ie important middlemen) fades even further. Also read a related article which is a bit of a counter-point to the first article albeit with little new information.
February 19, 2008
A couple of years ago a kid from Norway, named Jon Lech Johansen, broke the encryption put on DVD’s to stop people from coping them onto their computers. A year or so later he did the same thing to the iTunes music store and made it possible for folks to share their music purchases. He was pretty unpopular with the big media companies but geek-boys the world over loved him, so he went legit and started a venture backed company. However, going legit isnt what it used to be. His latest application, let’s you share your music and other media with friends and family no matter what device they might be using. The new application called doubleTwist allows you to convert all your iTunes purchases to plain old mp3’s for you can shares them across devices. and it help you manage that process. The application is still in beta (early beta if the number of crashes I’ve had is any indicator) so you might want to check out the PDF press release here , the blog reaction here or the early articles here and here.
Thanks to the erudite scholar and gentleman, david touve for the tip.
February 9, 2008
Are you rhythmically challenged? Does your guttural moaning and expletive laden calls for incestuous relations with a parental figure ruin your bi-monthly night of passion? If so, then a force-sensitive sound-playing condom might be just what you need to set the mood. The inventor of the musical cock-ring and the burping, peeing doll you played with as a kid has another hit device ready to be licensed by manufactures the world over.
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March 5, 2007
Way back in december when people still cared about the prospects of Microsoft’s Zune, I commented on a CNN product review gone horribly wrong. At the time I didnt think it could get worse. Well I’ve been proven wrong. Its seems our British friends are putting their more refined use of the english language to work not in the creation of prose but in the more rarefied art of product bashing.
While looking into new phones I came across this review of the Samsung E900 in the Guardian (an excellent alternative to the crappy US newspaper fare). The review starts off with some self-effacing hilarity, moves on to snarky commentary and then quickly blossoms into full out bashing. Anytime someone uses the words “twittering handheld crapstones” to refer to your product, its not a good thing. I’ll end my musings with this sample of what rant is truly supposed to be:
It is lumbered with a bewildering array of unnecessary “features” aimed at idiots, including a mode that scans each text message and turns some of the words into tiny ani-mations, so if someone texts to say they have just run over your child in their car, the word “car” is replaced by a wacky cartoon vehicle putt-putting onto the screen. There is also a crap built-in game in which you play a rabbit (“Step into the role of Bobby Carrot – the new star of cute, mind-cracking carrot action!”).
February 6, 2007
People have been belly-aching about Apple’s iTunes DRM for months, complaining that it’s somehow more restrictive then says Microsoft’s brown brick, the Zune. Steve (El Capitain) Job’s has been largely silent. Until now. Today Apple’s CEO came out swinging. In a letter posted on the Apple site, not only does he lay-the-smack-down on the “free iTunes” contingent but he steals my math to do it. A large part of his argument virtually mirrors the analysis I did way back in April of last year. Namely that most of the music on iPods is not from iTunes. Should I expect a check?
My five sentence summary of Steve’s 1800 word rant is:
iPods rock, DRM sucks. The labels made me put DRM on iPods before they’d license any music to me. If I open Apple’s DRM to every joe-blow company that comes asking Apple’s products would suck as much as Microsoft’s Zune. Only 3% of the songs on most iPods is from the iTunes music store the rest is from other sources.
My favorite quote:
“The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat.”
Read the full letter here, to find the first two alternatives.
Thanks to Jake Walker for the news via Pho.
November 14, 2006
Today the Zune player from Windows will explode from the shelves of 30,000 stores around the country, to what I anticipate will be the collective yawn of a “me-to” device weary public.
Will Microsoft spend billions pushing the Zune player on the market? Yes.
Will they make a huge splash in the press? Yes.
Will they put out a press release within a week and tout how many Zune’s they’ve foisted off on unsuspecting luddites sold? Yes.
Will it fail get any real traction and have a minimal impact on the market for digital players? Yes!
Now some might say I’m simply playa hatin’ (excuse the pun and the misappropriated vernacular) the on the Zune, so I’ve put together this list of the top 10 reasons the Zune will fail in the market.
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November 9, 2006
I’m pretty conflicted about the news that MS has signed an agreement with Universal Music to share revenue from Zune sales. On the one hand it seems like a great way for MS to guarantee itself access to content from one the music industries largest producers. Given Universal’s size and power its unlikely that other labels wont get in line to license their stuff to the ZUNE store and get a piece of Zune sales as a bonus. On the other hand it highlights just how desperate MS has become in its heavily lampooned bid to ruin the iParty that Apple has enjoyed for the last few years.
There is great coverage out there from both perspectives; for the naysayers, check out Global Nerdy’s take on the Zune shakedown or Om Maliks thoughts on UMG muscling Zune. For a more enthusiastic take on the subject check out Mathew Ingram’s post or El Reg’s rant, neither of which call of the out right destruction of the music industry… Of course you may prefer the more balanced approach of MSM, so here a link to the NY Times article and an AP story is here.
November 3, 2006
This morning I was checking out the folks at Zunescene when I noticed the following headline:
Many iPod Owners Will Buy Zune
The post pointed to this ABI Research article on a survey they did of 1,725 “consumers” and their likelihood to purchase a Zune player. Of the people who responded to the survey 58% of the “consumers” who said they had an iPod and 59% of those with a different music player, said they would buy a Zune. I love these sorts of research finds and broad claims without content. They make for great marketing statements and of course great articles, but they dont shed any light on the prospects in the market for the Zune to challenge the iPod. Lots of heat and no light.
The research brief is part of The Ecommerce Times did a follow-up on the survey and spoke to its principal analyst, Steve Wilson, who puts the Zunes market prospects in context this way:
“It’ll make a big splash, but it’s going to need something else behind it to make it take hold,” he said. “It’ll ride far on the initial marketing drive, but there’s nothing unique about it that’s all that compelling.”
Now that would make an interesting headline: Microsoft to Spend Billions and have little Digital Music Impact
September 18, 2006
I really wanted to title this post “Zune everyone will get the Urge for an iPod”, but thought better of it. What good would it do to make fun of the two companies I’d most like to work for in the future, if for no other reason then to get a bit of what their smoking. The real question though is how to best sum up last weeks buzz about Microsoft’s hurried announcement of the Zune player, in response to Apple’s more interesting iTV/iPod announcements? Dare I joke about the dorky name? Have I the tech chops to suggest that another DRM crippled player isnt what the music industry needs. Should I play it straight, parrot the pundits and shill the Zune’s main selling point, limited Wifi sharing (3 tracks in 3 days and then poof its gone)? In the midst of all this musing it struck me, the real story here isnt that the Zune player is gonna take down Apple’s iTunes/iPod combo. The real story is that the Zune player could be the final nail in the coffin of the MusicGremlin. Never heard of it? Exactly!
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