I’m wondering how big the check is. That’s Doug Morris’ new strategy. Pay enough, and he’ll entertain your music distribution idea. You might be bankrupted in the process, that’s usually why he makes you pay up front.

Microsoft won’t disappear. They lose money on every Xbox, they’re delusional, they believe everybody wants to join the social and share music on a Zune. The Redmond, Washington outfit’s philosophy is "we don’t want to be left out", they want to compete in every segment. Kind of like General Motors. And look what it did for them. (Toyota now too, their expansion has caused quality issues, causing "Consumer Reports" to lambaste them, hurting their image).

I would feel better if Doug Morris licensed a newbie, someone without an established entity to shore up, to maintain. That’s what Nokia is doing here, jockeying for position, not only with Motorola and Apple, but Vodafone and AT&T.

Turns out going for the deepest pocket is not good strategy in the tech world. Deep pockets play along, young ‘uns need to survive, so they don’t play by the rules. Unfortunately, many young ‘uns have left the music business, because they can’t get licenses. SpiralFrog got a license, but the payment was so heavy and the restrictions so draconian, that it’s fallen off the radar screen.

You’ve got to give Doug Morris credit. He’s trying new things. It’s just that he’s built his business on giving people what they want, and is failing to do this here.

Doug Morris would have the Atlantic promotion team work a record in a market. If it didn’t show up in retail reports after radio play, he pulled all efforts. Furthermore, he found new acts by researching retail reports, seeing what was selling out in the hinterlands. How could he get it so right in music, and so wrong in technology?

You’ve got to give the public what it wants.

The public wants unrestricted music, no DRM. On one hand Doug Morris knows this, selling MP3s at Amazon. But the Nokia initiative has DRM once again.

Doug Morris did get it right regarding the public’s desire to own a lot of music for a little price. That’s what the Nokia deal appears to offer, on the surface. But he’s forgotten the rule of Apple. That it’s about usability. That’s why the iPod succeeded. That’s why the iPhone is breaking through. That’s why Mac sales are soaring. Not because the products are cool, which they are. But because they’re good. Apple is the Beatles of technology. Nokia may be the Dave Clark Five. Microsoft is something akin to Cliff Richard, around forever, but not cutting edge.

You didn’t make headway in the sixties being a Beatle-hater. You had to join in. If Doug Morris wants to succeed, he’s either got to throw in with the Cupertino company or offer a product just as compelling.

It would be easy for Doug to do a test. Navigate a Nokia N Series and then an iPhone or iPod. It’s no comparison. People use Apple products because they can use them. And no offering is going to compete unless it’s just as usable.

Downloading and sync must always succeed, and be very quick. Navigation on the player must be simple.

Apple wasn’t the first in music, just the best. The dominant name in MP3 players when Apple entered the sphere, Rio, is now out of business. Creative vowed to compete, yet it has become an also-ran. Microsoft offered tethered subscriptions with bad software and the sphere is forever tainted, even though the software is now better, although it still is not seamless.

The war with Apple must cease. It’s not to Universal’s benefit. Universal must find a way to feed iPods, not to kill them. Everybody’s got one! Someday, a competitor might emerge, but an entrance is not imminent.

One thing Doug Morris does have right, sale by track is economic death. You need a plan akin to a subscription, a lot of music for a little money. But I’d tack a fee on the ISP. Allow file-trading. Try to enable behaviors the consumer has already endorsed. Fill those iPods, fill their successors. If the music is unprotected, it can go on any device. The best hardware player will win. And the best software player too. Until competing jukeboxes are as simple and savvy as iTunes, they’ve got no chance.

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    […] layer, or burned to CD. Seriously, did you really expect unlimited unrestricted downloads? Bob Lefsetz is not much more impressed. What is interesting is that, i […]

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