Apple should open up its format

We've covered this before; readers should note specifically this is related to the AAC format.

"With 50 million songs sold as of mid-March, 2004, Apple's iTunes Music Store (iTMS) owns more than half of the music-download business. Apple execs note proudly that the iPod now rakes in more than 50% of the total revenues in the digital-music-player sector. Macheads offer these numbers as proof that the music battle is over -- and that Steve Jobs has won.

Not so fast. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, fired a shot heard across the Internet on Mar. 24, with the launch of its own online music store, with 88-cent downloads -- 11 cents cheaper than Apple. If anything, this competition is just starting: Now-legitimate Napster has an online music service, Virgin is getting into the business, and Sony is set to enter later this year.

BATTLING THE WORLD? In this context, the fight over digital-music standards could be crucial to Apple's future. It has bet heavily on the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) standard, which it claims is a huge improvement over the older and much more popular MP3 standard. Apple has incorporated AAC as the primary standard in its iTunes software.

Naturally, Microsoft sees the future of music differently. Redmond is pushing hard for music software and device makers to adopt its Windows Media Audio as a primary standard. Falling in line with Microsoft are Apple's music-player competitors -- Samsung, Dell, iRiver, and Creative Technology, among others. Like the iPod, these boxes will also play files encoded in MP3 and WAV, among others."

View: Article @ BW

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