Levi Pearson levi at
Mon Jan 12 10:22:20 MST 2009

Michael Torrie <torriem at> writes:

> Levi Pearson wrote:
> 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!

Steve has been trying to negotiate DRM-free files from the industry for
years now.  He only just now got it by backing off on his single
price point stance.

> 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.

There are several non-Apple players that support AAC now, though they're
not the super-cheap crappy ones you speak of.  Who buys the super-cheap
no-name mp3 players, though?  Creative has a $60 player that does AAC,
which is certainly in the low-end price range.  You still have to shop
around, but the products are there.  Even the Zune plays AAC files.

> 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.

Apparently there was some incentive, since many *have* supported it.
Your ignorance of this support doesn't mean it hasn't existed.

> 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.

No, now that iTunes (again, the BIGGEST RETAILER OF MUSIC) no longer has
DRM-encumbered files, look to see AAC supported much more widely in the

> 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*?

Well, I guess we'll just have to revisit this in a year or so and see
which one of us was right, eh?


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