Apple

It’s about cornering the market.

Don’t complain that the ROKR phone only holds 100 songs.  Just ask if anybody else has a better solution.  Never mind tied into the iTunes Music Store.

I’d like to tell you I’m bowled over by Apple’s announcements today.  But I’m not.  So far, I’ve seen nothing revolutionary.  But as a business story, it’s utterly fascinating.  By creating the best products, improving them before anybody is CLOSE to catching up, Apple owns online music.

Did we need the iPod nano?  Did Apple need the nano?  Certainly not today, iPod Minis were flying off the shelf.  But now, it’s like you’re having sex with Heidi Klum and Joss Stone has jumped in.  When you thought you had enough, when you were fully happy, you got MORE!

Which, in this case, is less.

I think this is about as small as we go.  We learned this lesson in phones.  After a certain shrinkage point, usability goes down.  I actually use a slightly larger cell phone than I used to.  And most other people do too.

And I don’t need a nano.  But, most people don’t have iPods.  And for these people, the chance to get the latest cool gadget, to be a member of the club, to enter the game on the CUTTING EDGE, that’s too much of an enticement to turn down.

All sold with a hucksterism that would make P.T. Barnum proud.

If only the record industry introduced the DualDisc the same way.

But they couldn’t.  It was a lame product fraught with problems that most people didn’t want.

But, they could have introduced SACD or DVD-A this way.  With a dog and pony show.  But, for all the showmanship in this business, it’s eclipsed by a guy in Silicon Valley.  Kind of laughable if you think about it.

The labels have lost control.  Apple’s got control.  And the reason is the iPod.  They’ve got a player universe ECLIPSING that of VHS twenty five years ago.  They’ve won the war.  You CAN’T have success if what you’re purveying is not iPod-compatible.

Not that Steve is fucking the labels.  God, the deal he’s given them with the iTunes Music Store is…one no other retailer would settle for.  Yup, he’s giving the labels the LION’S SHARE of the revenue and they’re STILL complaining.  As if they knew how to run a business, never mind an online one.  I mean not only has Apple created the iPod business out of thin air, but the company’s computer sales are up.  What’s going up in the record industry other than executive salaries?

The whole Apple paradigm is based on simplicity.  The simpler you make something the less daunting it is, the more usable it becomes.  You get all these options in the Microsoft world that you never use.  And click the wrong button and you can never get things back to the way they used to be.  THAT’S why songs are 99 cents.  To make it CONCEPTUALLY easy.  To simplify the buying process.  The only decision is WHETHER you want the track, NOT if it’s a good deal.

As for licensing FairPlay…  Despite all the industry jawboning, Apple’s not going to do it.  Give up their near-monopoly to satiate some overpaid wankers who don’t even understand the game, who have no real concept of the playing field?  Sure, maybe the industry was too stupid to foist an open standard of copy protection on Steve, then again, the brass at IBM was too stupid to buy MS DOS from Microsoft.

So, this is the story of a juggernaut.

As for the details…

You want a phone that plays music, now you’ve got one.  It’s not what I want.  But this ends the carping that Apple is going to be eclipsed by music on mobile phones.

And, in its battle with Verizon, Cingular now has an advantage.  They can use the ROKR phone as a come-on.  For people to sign up.  You know it won’t cost $249 for long.  Hell, they’re not even interested in selling songs, that’s chump change in comparison to getting millions signed up at fifty bucks a month.

This could change the whole paradigm.  Forestall the selling of songs via cell phones.  Which were overpriced in the conception and barely usable because they weren’t easily transferable to other devices.  Oh, SOMEDAY there will be wireless delivery in quantity.  But not tomorrow, and when it happens, will Apple be leading the way anyway??

As for the new version of iTunes…

Searching capabilities I thought of upon the introduction of version 1.0 but have forgotten since.  You can just click on "Artist", "Name" or "Album" in the greyed-out bar, just like the quick links in Safari.

AND, the software engineers at Apple fixed the glitch in the previous Mac version that caused some files to be changed to QuickTime Movie format and stutter upon playing.  They play fine now, and go back to MPEG.

And the installation…seamless.

And so far the usability is too.

Such a change from the old days of computerdom.  Such a change from the Windows world.

The naysayers have been proven wrong again.  When it didn’t even need to, Apple has pulled a rabbit out of its hat once again.

All eyes are on Steve Jobs, not musical stars.  Hell, the musicians are in thrall TO HIM!  They want to work with HIM!

It’s fun to watch.  It gives you something to believe in.  Oh, there’s a ton of hype, but underneath it is EXCELLENCE!

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.


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