Michael Torrie torriem at
Mon Jan 12 09:52:41 MST 2009

Levi Pearson wrote:
>> Why?
> The iTunes store has a good selection and it's a convenient interface to
> browse and buy it.
> <snip>
> So, the top music retailer in the US, which now uses a high-bitrate,
> non-DRM, standard and widely supported audio format is a dead end?  I
> think you're maybe a bit off on that call.

Actually the fact that iTunes store has switched to DRM-free music is
proof that Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, and even Walmart (
had pretty much signaled the music industry's turn against iTunes Store
and their lock-in, which is kind of cool in an ironic way.  Go Steve!

Sure now I can get DRM-free AAC, but where can I play such music except
on my iPod?  With the prices of storage dropping dramatically, the
low-end market (one that Apple has never serviced with their iPods
except the shuffle) is now totally saturated with cheap, disposable MP3
players.  They play, well, MP3s.  And maybe wma.  But very few play AAC
files too, or ogg files, sadly.  I have no idea where you get "widely
supported" unless you're simply talking about the 75% share of all
portable music players that Apple has.

Now of course with DRM-infested music being the norm from iTunes Store,
and given that Apple was not willing to license the DRM technology in
any way, there was no incentive for any device make to support
unencrypted AAC.   Maybe that will change, but not for a while.

In short, mp3 won.  Despite AAC still being better at equivalent
bitrates, and even Ogg being better and license-free, mp3 won.  Now
we're not worried so much about compression rates, so 256 kbit/s mp3s
are just fine, size-wise, and combined with the fact that the encoder
(LAME) that many of these distributors are using is really really good
now, makes me think no one is going to bother with AAC suport in cell
phones, smart phones, disposable mp3 players, etc.

So no, I don't think I'm off on this call at all.  iTunes music store is
a dead end, until they switch to MP3, or manage to get every little
device on the planet AAC-capable, and I make this call given that the
competition, when combined, rivals iTunes Store for music selection.
Given all this, I can't see any reason to buy an AAC file when I can buy
the 256 kb/s MP3 for the same price or cheaper and play it *everywhere*?

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