In his latest BusinessWeek Online “Byte of the Apple” column, Alex Salkever runs the risk of stating the blindingly obvious when he says that Apple should steer into the Windows market with its iTunes Music Store. His comments come in a new article called
Time for Apple to spread the beat.
The iTunes Music Store is currently Mac-compatible only, but Apple has made absolutely no secret that it plans to release a Windows version. In fact, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said so the day that the new commercial music download service was launched this past April, and company officers have repeated those plans to analysts and others a few times since then. Jobs told attendees of the special event held for the service’s release that Apple’s plan was to offer such a version by the end of the year.
Salkever’s point, however, is that Apple will win the hearts and minds of college students with such an effort — and despite some big iBook wins with public high schools and middle schools over the past couple of years, the educational market is a battlefield where Apple has lost precious ground to Dell in recent years.
Salkever suggests that once Apple gets a Windows-compatible version of the iTunes Music Store online, the company should provide new iPod buyers with an incentive. “… if new iPod buyers were offered 30 free songs at the Apple Music Store, that could prove both a tempting lure and a way to acclimate the novices to the Jobsian Way of scoring tunes,” he said.
And there’s no better time than now, with school network administrators doing what they can to limit student “file-swapping madness,” Salkever said — especially with the litigous Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) handing out subpoenas to universities and Internet service providers (ISPs) to see who’s swapping what.
Obviously, Apple stands to gain not just iTunes Music Store customers but lots more owners of iPods. With higher profit margins on iPods than on the songs themselves, “The big bucks are in the player, not the tunes,” he said.
“Most college kids I know blow at least $5 per day on coffee. Convincing millions of them to spend even $1 per day on music would be a huge coup for Apple and the recording industry. The key to getting them in the habit is to make it easy. That means coupling iPods with a new and enhanced Apple Music Store that can handle sales to both Mac and Windows users,” said Salkever.