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Economist.com: The race to catch the iPod

Here is another great article about the ongoing revolution in music distribution and how apple is shaping the business enviroment.

Apple’s portable iPod music player has revolutionised the way in which music is delivered to consumers. However, as Apple launches its iPod mini worldwide, the brand is under attack on two fronts: from copycat products from the likes of Sony, and from subscription services, which will soon be helped by software from Microsoft

The advent of the internet and more powerful computing that made online piracy possible also made possible legal digital distribution. However, the industry has been slow to take advantage of this opportunity.

The industry was reluctant to offer digital distribution itself, partly because it feared that it would no longer be able to sell second-rate songs bundled with more popular ones. It was also worried about illegal copying from legal downloads.

But Apple’s success with the iPod has spurred competition. The most formidable challenge comes from Sony. The Japanese company launched the Network Walkman last month, on the 25th anniversary of the first (cassette-based) Walkman.

As these two companies lock horns, a battle over standards is looming. The iPod can download music only from iTunes, while the Network Walkman can take songs from the Sony Connect service, but not from iTunes. Some industry-watchers think this could turn into a struggle like that between the Betamax and VHS formats for video recorders.

Economist.com | Digital music

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