”The online digital music business stinks.” So says Kevin Maney of USA Today. Seriously. He wrote that.
Long known for masterful insight into all things tech and business, why does USA Today’s techno pundit think iTunes is a failure?
How does such a conclusion compare to the facts? By stating the facts about online music sales, and most of that is iTunes, USA Today’s sharpest media
wit says the hype is false.
iTunes is a failure. Music sales online is a failure. How can that be? Haven’t we been hearing how good iTunes Store is doing by dominating the market?
Apparently we’ve been deceived by the same facts that USA Today’s best techno analyst says are proof of the failures.
Writer maney tries a reality distortion field of his own by pointing out that “nearly six years after the introduction of iTunes and the iPod, online music has failed to interest the vast majority of the world’s music consumers.”
That’s a fact, but somewhat distorted. Let’s say that the “vast majority” is anything over 50-percent. By that yardstick, the iPod is a failure, too. So is the Mac. So is Lexus, BMW, HP, and fish sticks.
Besides, the iTunes Store didn’t arrive until 2003, so isn’t even four years old. 2-billion downloads in less than four years. That’s a failure. Right.
Displaying a few more “facts,” USA Today’s best regurgitates an item from Steve Jobs “Thoughts on Music” essay that 3-percent of songs on a typical iPod are bought from the iTunes Store. The rest of from CDs or pulled illegally from the internet.
The problem is, that’s not a “fact”. It’s a statistic. My iPod has about 3,000 songs, over 1,000 of which, roughly 35-percent, came from the iTunes Store. Those who use the iTunes Store probably have more than 3-percent. Duh.
Is that cause for shouting failure? I don’t think so. Yet, USA Today’s techno hack displays more “facts” from a Forrester Research report that says barely 3-percent of all online households bought from the iTunes Store. Therefore, said store is a failure. Right?
Not so fast. If, in the US, Apple’s iTunes Store is the #5 retailer for music, just behind Wal-Mart, Target, and friends, but ahead of Amazon, does that mean Amazon is a failure because less than 3-percent of US households buy their music there?
See the problem? Facts vs. statistics does not an argument make.
Does USA Today’s Kevin Maney strive for true analysis of a complex subject? Nope. Here’s what we get.
Insert Jon Stewart’s Scooby Doo impression here.
The problem I have with media techno pundits is their over use of the “cheap shot” headline, and misrepresentation of statistics as facts. Calling iTunes a failure is a cheap shot. Maybe it sells papers, but it’s wrong.
However, Maney concludes with where he should have started:
That, I got no problem with, you know? But this? As to the reason why Apple’s Steve Jobs wrote his essay on music: “More likely, Jobs realized it was time to save iTunes.”
Wrong again. It was time for Jobs to save music.