Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Apples and Everyone Else

I guess the current axiom that if you want attention then write or talk about Apple holds true. The Kansas City Star writes about the competing digital music formats befuddling consumers. The music industry's efforts seem to be curtailing and not encouraging market adoption. As one CEO of a digital music service notes, “You used to buy a CD, and it would play in any CD player. But that’s not how this works.”

According to Gartner, music downloads will increase from an estimated $335 million to $1.4 billion in 2009, which is still only 10 percent of CD sales. The article notes that for market-leader Apple, there is "little incentive to make nice with the competition" since the 59 types of protable music players "are jockeying for less than 10 percent of the market, and one, the iPod, has 90-plus percent."

“It’s a whole bunch of others grappling for leftovers at this point,” Mike McGuire at Gartner said.

The various types of services - purchase vs rental - don't help either. McGuire pointed out the downside of the subscription model by stating, "The catch is you have to keep paying the fee forever to keep the music; as soon as you stop, a code makes the song vanish. It’s as if you canceled a magazine subscription and the magazine sent someone to your house to take away all the back issues."

“Most people want to own their stuff," opined McGuire, who according to the article is "not bullish on the rental model. (In addition, the songs won’t play on iPods, and you have to pay extra to burn them on a CD.)"

In the end, it all comes down to the usage model. If you want access to a lot of music, but don't care about owning then the subscription model works fine (as long as you don't own an iPod). For me, I'd rather own the music. I admit my CD collection is filled with albums I only purchased for one song or haven't listend to in years, but right now iTunes suits my family's purposes just fine. My kids listen to singles and not albums so 99 cents is a lot easier on the wallet than $12.99...