Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Apple keeps on rollin’

This morning’s Washington Post brings further evidence that in the battle between Apple and Microsoft for total world domination, that Apple at least continues to own the music industry.

Reporter Mike Musgrove writes:

Microsoft says it is on track to sell its millionth Zune music player, the software company's would-be challenger to Apple's enormously popular iPod.

Microsoft expects the player to hit the sales milestone by the end of its fiscal year in June, almost eight months after the product made its debut. Apple, which launched its iPod music player in October 2001, has sold 100 million of the music players.

Several competing music devices from hardware makers have aimed to become "iPod killers," but there has not been much change in the MP3 player market in recent years, even with Microsoft's highly publicized entry.

Musgrove cites NPD Group data that gives Microsoft 4th place (at 2.3%), after Apple (70%), SanDisk (11.7%) and Creative (4%). (Presumably these are US figures, given that Apple is not that dominant worldwide and NPD only studies the US). While SanDisk is the most credible challenger, clearly it’s not much of a fight.

It seems in the best interests of consumers and the IT industry (if not the record industry) to have different segments dominated by different firms. Once upon a time, there were no credible challengers to IBM in any segment. Now, in the computer industry alone, we have IBM dominant in mainframes, Sun in workstations, HP and Dell in PCs, various players in PDAs, and Nokia in computers-pretending-to-be-mobile-phones. That Apple owns music seems healthier than if IBM or Microsoft or HP owned it all — if, for no other reason, that Apple can credibly challenge PC leadership (on profits if not revenues) while others can challenge music leadership.

It’s also interesting that all of these firms are pursuing some variation of proprietary strategies. Yes, perhaps IBM mainframes and Sun workstations will mostly be running Linux someday, but right now they are really all updates and variations of the IBM 360 proprietary platform strategy of 40 years ago.

Two other music tidbits.
  • Today is the first day of Apple’s DRM-free iTunes Plus service, with content from EMI. Who says you can’t get no satisfaction? (And whatever his critics might say, Steve Jobs is clearly driving innovation and change in the music industry).
  • As the Post alluded to, Steve & Bill are doing a rare joint press conference at the Wall Street Journal’s annual Davos-in-Carlsbad IT summit. I remember the first one (only a few miles from where I then lived) seemed overpriced and pretentious, but the Journal has done an enviable job of using the D conference to make news rather than just be yet another schmoozefest.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

No comments: