Why Apple is still winning the MP3 player wars- Part XXXVI

by Jason Gross

8 August 2006


A recent Business Week article (Have iPod, Will Travel) neatly and cleanly why Apple continues to dominate the market for MP3 players.  I’ve ranted about this a number of times (including this March posting) but the BW article gives away the real secret to how the iPod still rules: customization.
The fact that car manufacturers are now building their latest model to accomodate iPods is a huge cap-feather for Apple.  How many other companies do the auto-makers bend to the will of like that?

Even with news of Microsoft gearing up to get into the competition for MP3 players in time for the holidays is being met with some skepticism: Microsoft changes tune with Zune.  As noted, MS isn’t in the business of selling electronics but software and their market dominance ain’t what it used to be.  At one time, they were getting socked with govt lawsuits that said that their browser was gonna take over the internet.  Now, that’s dimmed with many newer online companies who’ve done a much better job exploiting the potential of the Net: you know the roll call, Google, MySpace, etc..

But anyone who wants to take Apple on in the MP3 market is a story, right?  Rooting against Apple right now are: 1) all of its competitors in the MP3 player market who want a piece of the growing pie, 2) major record companies who want the option of flexible pricing for songs, 3) the press who wants to report about a good fight.

But even one of the recent Net heavyweights has conceded that it can’t compete with Apple: We won’t sell music

“But in the wake of a cool reception to Google video sales, and in the face of a challenging environment for digital rights management and device compatibility, the company appears to be putting the brakes on expectations for a retail play in music and other areas of digital entertainment. (Google says)... the big opportunity in digital music is in developing the ecosystem: one that allows consumers to move content from the home to the car and between devices with ease.”

In other words, they know that they’re gonna get their clock cleaned by trying to compete with iTunes since they don’t have a reasonable iPod product to go along with it, which is the whole idea.  And so, Microsoft thinks it’s going to come along and vanquish Apple just because they’re now in the market?  After MS beat Apple in the operating systems wars (one that they lost partially because they wouldn’t license their software, just as they’re doing now with with music format for iTunes), it was laughable to think that Apple could ever take them on again.  With the worm having turned, it’ll take more than Microsoft’s name (which means much less today) to overtake Apple.

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