Friday, December 16, 2005

Jupiter Microsoft Monitor: The URGE to Listen?

JupiterResearch analyst Joe Wilcox posts at the Microsoft Monitor his thoughts on what he calls the "nebulous MTV music service announcement," because "Microsoft and MTV didn't release a whole lot of details about the new URGE music service."

Wilcox wonders what was the point of making some noise now when they were "to give out more details at the Consumer Electronics Show." Regarding devices (i.e. iPods), Wilcox argues that the Ipod is not as closed as folks claim. He states:

CDs are overwhelming purchased compared to digital downloads. Besides, Apple had iPod long before iTunes Music Store. The device drives sales back to the store, not the other way around. It's true Apple has one kind of closed loop between iTunes content and iPod. But as long as Apple products support MP3 format, iPod is plenty open. Windows Media is its own closed loop. Microsoft touts choice, but that choice exists because a number of online stores and music devices support Windows Media technologies. WMA DRM requires Windows and its supporting technologies. If iTunes/iPod is a closed loop, then so is Windows Media.
He also notes that there doesn't seem to be a MTV branded player at this time, but won't know for sure until CES. He thinks:
A MTV branded music player, with Apple's ease of use, could go somewhere, especially if it had the capability to play music and music videos, including subscription content. How far it could go would depend on lots of factors, such as device-to-computer synchronization and device design. But going somewhere is better than going nowhere, considering how far behind Apple are Microsoft and its partners.
Wilcox thinks this is a big deal for Microsoft since "association with another strong brand [MTV] is just what Microsoft needs right now to push out Windows Media adoption and gain some, any, traction against iTunes/iPod and the proliferation of Apple's Fairplay-DRM audio format."

For MTV, Wilcox think the key advantage is their brand and sister enteertainment and online properties, including Comedy Central, MTV2, Nickelodeon,VH1 and NeoPets He sees the "potential to "cross-promote its music service across these properties, including advertising and freebees. It's around marketing that MTV has the tremendous muscle capable of making URGE into a highly successful Windows Media-based music service.The number of opportunities are mind boggling."

Wilcox dreams up some potential marketing ideas in conclusion:
I love verbs for marketing. A sign of Google's success is the brand's use as a verb. MTV chose to start out with one. I like it. The URGE to listen. The URGE to compete (battle of the bands). How about "A Real World" music show, "The Real URGE" about up-and-coming musicians. The mind boggles the marketing possibilities.
Well it's all the buzz right now and I'm helping to contribute to the noise. MTV and Apple could have been a killer combo. We'll just have to wait a little longer to see what they can do with Microsoft instead....