It’s remarkable how some things change so quickly in the field of techno toys. And how little changes in over a year.
Just last year Real Networks and Microsoft charged that the iPod was a closed system.
This year Microsoft gives Real nearly $1-billion to settle an anti-trust lawsuit. Competitors Real, Napster, and Microsoft claim to be ‘open’ and charge that Apple’s iPod ‘ecosystem’ is closed.
Yet, today nearly 80-percent of portable music player customers and online music sales belong to Apple.
Tera and Jack argued the point for hours late last summer. The following is that encore argument; a Point-Counterpoint from one year ago. Note how much has changed. Apple’s market share in music players and online music sales have gone up, not down.
What did Jack and Tera have to say?
Pro and Con. Should Apple leave the iPod and iTunes Music Store as they are? Or, open the iPod to other online stores? Good questions. Two devoted iPod users, one Windows, one Mac, square off in a battle of Point – Counterpoint.
Point – Counterpoint
RealNetworks has drawn first blood with a few shots aimed clearly at Apple’s insistence that the “closed” system of iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store is wrong and hurts consumers. Real first slammed Apple for not opening their winning trio to other online music stores. Others followed.
Then Real stung Apple in public by back engineering software called Harmony which allowed music from Real’s online music store to play on Apple’s iPods.
Real kicked Apple again by launching a heated and one-sided media blitz designed to shame Apple, infuriate the millions of iPod owners, and open Apple’s technology to include offerings from Real’s music store.
Point: Jack D. Miller, Windows user, system administrator, writer, Apple critic (now Mac user).
Counterpoint: Tera Jean Patricks, writer, Mac user, photographer, music lover.
Point – Apple Should Open iPod, iTunes Music Store (Jack Miller)
There’s no way to deny it. Apple’s trio of iPod, iTunes, and iTunes Music Store (iTMS) is a closed system. It only works the way Apple wants it to. If I buy music somewhere else online, I can’t play it on my iPod without jumping through hoops.
Counterpoint – Apple’s System Is Fine The Way It Is (Tera Jean Patricks)
It’s just sour grapes and desperation for Real Networks, and all the other online music store and player wannabees. Apple’s music system is no more closed than my mind. You can buy nearly any CD from any store and move it to your iPod from iTunes. Any downloaded music from an online store can be copied to your iPod; just convert it to MP3 (assuming Real’s store lets you do that).
Point – Exactly The Point. Apple Is Closed, Real Wants It Open (Jack)
Why should Apple make me jump through hoops just so I can use my iPod to hold music from another online store? It’s my music. It’s my iPod. Come on, Apple. Let me play what I want, when I want.
Counterpoint – The iPod Is Already Open (Tera)
You can already do anything you want with your iPod. Download music from Real’s music store, or anywhere else (except Sony), convert the song to an MP3, add it to iTunes, and “poof”, it’s on your iPod. What could be more easy. Except you after a six pack?
Point – Real and Microsoft are Right, Apple Is Wrong (Jack)
Apple’s is a closed system. Real offers real value with their online music store and, as an iPod owner and user, I can’t take advantage of the 49-cent singles, and $4.99 albums. That’s a bargain. Apple won’t do the same price, so they’re keeping me from buying the music I want. Real’s strategy is a good one. It gets me music I want, affordably priced, and I can play it on my iPod using Harmony.
Counterpoint – Real’s Strategy Is Dangerous (Tera)
Jack, are you an ignorant s_l_u_t? Let’s say you buy 100 singles at 49-cents each, and 10 albums at $4.99 each. That’s $100 down the drain because Real will be out of business soon and future versions of iPod and iTunes may not play Real’s music anyway. Why take the chance? You’re saving $100 only to lose $100 later. Maybe sooner.
Point – It’s All About Choice. Apple Is “No Choice But Apple” (Jack)
The point is, I can go to Wal-Mart and buy CDs that play on my Windows PC. And my Mac. And my iPod and iTunes. I can then go to Tower Records and buy CDs and play them on my computer and put them on my iPod. Why can’t I got to Microsoft’s online store, download music, and play the songs on my iPod? Apple’s closed system won’t let me do that, right?
Counterpoint – Apple Gives Freedom And Choice (Tera)
I’m a Mac user. I can’t use RealNetworks music store. It’s Windows only. I can’t use Wal-Mart’s music store. It’s Windows only. I can’t use Napster. It’s Windows only. I can’t use Microsoft’s store. Where’s the choice there?
Apple’s system of iPod, iTunes, and iTunes Music Store is the ONLY online music store with true choice; Mac or Windows users have the best experience. 70-percent market share for iTMS seems to indicate that most music lovers are takiing sides and voting where it counts—with cash.
Summary: Point – It’s My Music, It’s My Choice (Jack)
Apple is not about any choice; except Apple’s choice. You know, that sounds an awful lot like Microsoft’s strategy with Windows and Office. “Choice is good, so long as it’s my choice” is what Microsoft did. They created a monopoly.
Now, Apple is trying to do the same thing with iPod and iTunes music. They want to own the whole market, and, just like Microsoft, let the buyer be damned.
Summary: Counterpoint – Sour Grapes From Losers (Tera)
Apple’s Steve Jobs said it himself. The “desktop wars” are over. Microsoft won. Apple continued to innovate, thrive, prosper with Mac OS X, G5 chips, PowerBooks, iLife, and now with iPod, iTunes Music.
RealNetworks, on the other hand, continues to bleed money and is obviously financially desperate. Real products don’t work well anyhow, and the market has voted them to near non-existence. Their new pricing scheme, while attractive, is basically a “going out of business sale” and won’t last.
Is The Battle Over? Or, is it, “The Battle Has Just Begun?”
Do we live in interesting times, or what?
That was Jack and Tera back before iTunes Music Store and iPod became huge sellers. What’s remarkable is how much has changed and yet not much has changed. Prices have changed, but Real has money coming out its’ ears, thanks to cash from Microsoft. Apple’s sales continue to soar; both music player and online music sales, thanks to iTunes Music Store and the iPod, huge hits even with Windows users.
A year ago we took an online poll of Mac360 readers regarding Real vs. Apple. To see how the voting went, just Click Here.
Is Apple’s iPod, iTunes, and iTMS a ‘closed system’ that only benefits Apple and not customers?