Editorial: Still on-key By David Leishman, email@example.com
Neil McCormick’s Thursday column for Telegraph UK is a study in contrasts for iPod and iTunes Music Store fans.
In the opening section, entitled “Is iPod the new Betamax?,” he ponders whether iPod’s days are numbered in the wake of the Sony-BMG record label merger, and the further label consolidations he foresees. He suggests that the battle for control of standards and compatibility for downloaded music formats could leave Apple’s music player “piled high in car-boot sales alongside Betamax video players and 8-track cassette machines.”
Perhaps someone could let Mr. McCormick know that iPods can play almost any form of encoded song, from MP3 to WAV, while the Music Store has begun working toward its two millionth sale. Perhaps that someone could be a member of U2, the band that he features in his second section.
As he reports, a copy of the band’s recently-finished-but-not-due-until-November CD was played during a photo-shoot and inadvertently left in a changer, from which it was stolen. Police were called in, to no avail, and guitarist Edge notes that if the tunes end up on a file-sharing service, “the potential financial damage is disastrous.”
So, what’s the band’s solution? According to lead singer Bono, if the music ends up on the Internet, “we will release it immediately as a legal download on iTunes.”
Which is likely music to Steve Jobs’ ears, although I’m sure he’s almost as appalled about the theft as U2 is. As he told the Guardian during the launch of the UK Music Store, “iTunes really competes with piracy, not the other services. Piracy is the big enemy.” He first made this clear at the launch of the original Music Store, wherein Bono was a video guest, one who praised to the sky Jobs’ efforts and savvy.
What goes around, comes around. The mutual respect between the artists/businessmen within the corporation and the band leads to a bond that transcends the narrow vision of the record labels, and lays the foundation for more strategic, long-range solutions. Which helps further secure Apple’s position as the leader in music downloads, while providing U2 with a safety net that enables them to combat piracy and salvage at least some of the potentially lost revenues.
This is another significant step in the fast-paced move from the model of selling discs to selling digits, music-wise. Again, Apple appears to be playing the right tune. And the company this week even managed to overcome the weakest link in its European Store efforts, as it announced that it had signed three major European indie labels to deals with the Store.
I hope the growing roster of musicians such as Morrissey and The White Stripes will help convince Mr. McCormick to retain his iPod.
Apple introduces fourth-generation iPod
Apple on Monday introduced its fourth generation iPod, revised with a new interface similar to that found on the iPod mini and a new feature called Shuffle Songs. The new iPod also sports a battery that’s good for up to 12 hours of use at a time, according to Apple. The iPod is available in 20GB and 40GB capacities for US$299 and $399 respectively.
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IBM chip group still recovering from 90nm transition
IBM’s chip business was profitable in the second quarter, but Apple, its major customer, is still plagued by delays in obtaining a sufficient quantity of the company’s new 90-nanometer processors, signaling that IBM isn’t all the way out of the woods just yet. Apple last week, and for the second straight quarter, used its earnings conference call to testify to IBM’s inability to deliver enough PowerPC 970FX processors to meet demand. IBM acknowledged, in its first-quarter conference call in April, that it was suffering from yield problems at its new 90-nanometer manufacturing facility.
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Macromedia intros Contribute 3, FlashPaper 2
Macromedia on Monday introduced a new version of its Contribute Web page creation software for Mac OS X and Windows. The new software app isn’t due out until August, though Macromedia has made available a “preview release.” Contribute 3 gains more than 300 updated features, including the same engine as Dreamweaver MX 2004 with support for CSS rendering, and rules-based administrative control. FlashPaper 2, which enables users to create Flash or PDF-based files out of any printable document, will ship with Contribute.
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Around the Web
Dueling Airport Express reviews
On Thursday. both David Pogue of the New York Times and Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal issued reviews of Apple’s new Airport Express base station/AirTunes distributor/printer networker. Pogue, noting the device has “more tricks up its sleeve than David Blaine,” waxes enthusiastic. Mossberg, while finding that it “works as promised” as a base station, feels it “falls far short of being an ideal solution for listening to computer-based music in a distant room,” and takes Apple to task for not providing a means of remote control.
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