For whatever the reason, Microsoft has taken just short of forever to prepare and launch their version of an online Music Store.
Leader Apple Computer, as it was 20 years ago with the first Mac, has an 18 month lead, a 70-percent market share for online music store downloads, and a 50-percent market share in music players.
Thus far, the Cupertino Mac maker has taken on all challengers with a seemingly unbeatable combination of iPod portable music player, iTunes software, and iTunes Music Store.
All that is about to change. Here comes Microsoft.
Published reports say Microsoft is ready with Windows Media Player 10. The pre-release version is said to look more or less like a knock-off of Apple’s iTunes. Also ready to do battle with Apple’s popular iTunes Music Store is the Microsoft Music Store.
The battle lines are drawn. The topic:
Microsoft’s Music Store And Player Will Crush Apple’s iPod, iTunes Music Store.
Point: Alex Kayhill, journalist, Windows user, Apple critic.
Counterpoint: Tera Jean Patricks, writer, Mac user, music lover.
Point: It’s 1984 deja vu. Apple’ can’t win this battle, either (Alex Kayhill)
We should respect what Steve Jobs did for computing with the first Mac, what he did to bring Apple back from the ashes, what he’s done with digital music; the iPod, iTunes Music Store.
Microsoft is knocking at the door. Apple can’t win.
Counterpoint: This isn’t 1984, it’s 2004 (Tera Jean Patricks).
Microsoft and IBM were the leaders back then. Music is not the same as personal computers. It’s more, uh, personal than that. Already, millions of iPod owners and iTunes Music Store users “feel” the same way about their iPods that Mac users feel about their Macs.
Microsoft may be knocking at the door, but they’re too late to get in for the party.
Point: Apple can’t win a battle it can’t afford.
Microsoft has more money than God. They know the battle is not just 99-cent singles or $9.99 albums. It’s a battle of numbers. Microsoft can drive millions and millions of Windows users to their Music Store and the cost won’t be much more than a rounding error on their next quarterly statement.
Counterpoint: Microsoft only has two cash cows.
Windows and Office. That’s where the money comes from. That means they lose money on nearly everything else and digital music downloads won’t be any different.
Apple has acknowledged that there’s not much money in online music. Even 100-million downloads probably only covered their costs. The real money is in the music player, the iPod.
Microsoft doesn’t have a music player.
Point: The iPod, iTunes Music Store is a closed system.
Kudos to Apple for making a great experience for buying and playing music on Windows. That’s as far as it goes. How do you think those millions of Windows iPod users will feel when they find out they can’t play their Windows Music Store songs on their iPods?
Within six months Microsoft will suck the life out of the iPod, iTunes Music Store. Apple’s sales and market share will plummet, just like the stock price.
Counterpoint: Alex, you ignorant slut (homage to SNL).
It isn’t just money that makes the iPod and iTunes Music Store combo so great. After all, RealNetworks cut their singles and album prices about in half. What happened? Big yawns from iPod users.
It took Microsoft 10 years after the Mac launched to introduce Windows 95. Even then, it was poor. Microsoft’s years behind getting their new “Longhorn” operating system (replacement to Windows XP) out the door, while Apple’s Mac OS X advances every year with major upgrades.
The bloom is off the rose. Microsoft’s Music Store will go the way of Real, Napster, and Sony. Too much money spent on too little and way too late. Microsoft can’t compete quickly enough.
They didn’t wait 18 months after the iTunes Music Store launched because they wanted to “get it right.” It took 18 months and they still don’t get it.
Point: Sheer numbers will win it for Microsoft.
Apple can’t compete at the level of Microsoft, regardless of how good iPod, iTunes Music Store is. Microsoft has 10 times as much cash as Apple. History has shown they’re willing to spend money indefinitely to win a war, and not worried about losing a few battles.
Can you say, “IBM and OS/2?”
Where’s IBM’s OS today? Gone and forgotten. It’ll be the same with Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Microsoft’s already stated they’ll have as much music as the iTunes Music Store out of the gate. Windows Media Player 10 will provide more functionality than Apple, and, chances are good the music will cost less than at Apple.
More features, lower cost, wider distribution, more music players. Microsoft wins.
Counterpoint: People are tired of Microsoft. The alternative is better.
From the iPod, to iTunes, to iLife, to the iTunes Music Store to PowerBooks to Mac OS X, Apple’s getting it all right while Microsoft struggles with everything—including what to do with most of the money in the bank.
Think of that for a moment. They’re so full of innovation and bright ideas that they decide to give back all the money to their shareholders. Dell’s former CEO, Michael Dell once suggested that Apple do the same.
We’re glad that Steve Jobs didn’t listen. There’s alternatives to Microsoft and they work better. The Redmondian Goliaths will have the same problems the original Philistine had; too slow, not smart enough.
Final Point: Fuhgetaboutit. This game’s over.
Microsoft will have Windows Media Player on every portable music device in the world; except Apple’s iPod. They’ll drive 10 times the Internet traffic to the Microsoft Music Store. It’ll happen quickly, too. Apple will need a miracle.
Final Counterpoint: Microsoft will need the miracle.
Do you honestly think even a small percentage of iPod owners will “switch” to Microsoft? Already they don’t like Windows and a few million Windows users are impressed with how everything Apple “just works.” The iPod and iTunes Music Store work great, people love them both, and won’t easily switch to anything inferior, regardless of price.
It’s not 1984 all over again. It’s David and Goliath. We know what happened to Goliath.
Summary: Industry watchers say Microsoft could drop the hat at any moment in both a new Windows Media Player and the Microsoft Music Store. Industry pundits also say that Microsoft won’t need to be quite as good as the Apple offering; just add more features and cost a little less. That’s a familiar formula for Microsoft success.
What do you think? Without viewing the Microsoft Music Store or new Windows Media Player, will Apple be able to defend its turf?
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