Grant Robinson santiago at
Mon Jan 12 10:28:50 MST 2009

On Jan 12, 2009, at 9:52 AM, Michael Torrie wrote:

> 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!

Revisionist history is kind of fun, but the Apple didn't JUST switch  
to DRM-free music, it has been moving that way (and encouraging the  
labels to move that way) since early 2007.  Also, "Steve" called on  
the music industry to release DRM-free music in February 2007.   
Wikipedia has exact dates on when various things occurred for those  
that are very interested.  That some of the labels chose to not  
participate in order to bargain with Apple on other things in the  
iTunes Store (variable pricing, mainly) is all part of the game that  
the labels and Apple play.

> 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  
> 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.

Even if the ONLY player that played iTunes content was the iPod, I  
would call 75% "widely supported".  Add into that the fact that there  
are a lot of music players (perhaps not the ones you can buy out of a  
vending machine) that also support AAC along with MP3, and there are a  
lot of choices out there for playing AAC files.

> 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.

Not sure what "smart phones" you have been using, but most of the ones  
I have had, AAC has been a supported format, including models from  
Palm (Centro), Blackberry (Curve, Pearl, Storm, Bold, etc), and yes,  
even some Windows Mobile based phones.  They couldn't play "encrypted"  
DRM files, but they could play normal AAC files.  The #1 smartphone on  
the market (at least by volume sales) is also the iPhone, and it  
supports AAC content. :)

Also, remember that "75%" number from above?  If other makers of music  
players want to have a chance at luring people away from their iPod,  
iPod Touch, or iPhone, they are going to need to make that transition  
AS SEAMLESS AS POSSIBLE.  Someone who becomes disenchanted with their  
iPod but has thousands of files in AAC format is not going to go buy a  
new player that says "Oh, and by the way, before you can play anything  
from your iPod on this, you are going to have to re-encode all your  

It seems you have an axe to grind with Apple, but making illogical and  
somewhat ludicrous statements is not going to help you bring others  
around to your way of thinking.

> 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*?

Perhaps you feel that way, but I would have to say based on all the  
facts, that you are in the MINORITY, not the majority.  Were it not  
so, the iTunes Store would not be growing, it would be shrinking, but  
it is becoming more dominant in the market. Your argument would carry  
a lot more weight if it had more facts behind it.


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