Undoubtedly, the greatest challenge to Apple’s dominance of the digital music market has come from the Russian pseudopirates allofmp3.com. Fortunately for Apple, allofmp3.com was shut down recently by a Russian court responding to international charges of piracy, but unfortunately for Apple, another Russian court recently ruled that allofmp3.com’s operation are legal, and allofmp3.com will be operational again, soon.
In the meantime, the American record industry has been wasting its resources with perhaps the dumbest idea ever to emerge from this industry: www.spiralfrog.com. According to the article linked above:
Once downloaded, the user can play the songs via a PC through Windows Media Player or a portable player that supports WMA files. SpiralFrog doesn’t support playback on Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPod line or even Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Zune, nor does it provide a solution for Mac OS X users. The service only works via Windows XP or Vista PCs.
Furthermore, the user must remain active on the web site while songs are downloaded one at a time.
In other words, the recording industry has elected to challenge Apple’s service–which is functional and portable on Mac and Windows platforms–with a service that is functional only on the Windows platform and portable on no platform: the songs cannot be transported even on Microsoft’s Zune player. Spiralfrog.com seeks to challenge Apple by offering none of the features for which iTunes users are willing to spend hundreds of dollars (on an iPod, iPhone or other media player), and then charging the users by taxing their time in front of the computer.
Virtually all economic systems–barter, capitalism, communism, etc.–are based on the principle of quid pro quo, exchanging this for that. In total ignorance of the centuries of economic development that have resulted from the acceptance of this principle, the American recording industry is putting its weight behind a system that gives users absolutely nothing in exchange for their time and trouble. If spiralfrog.com is to be in anyway construed as a symbol of American capitalism, then heaven help the United States. The country will collapse under the weight of such stupidity long before any terrorist group can dream of executing another well coordinated attack.
As long as Apple’s iTunes Music Store is countered by such moronic efforts, buy Apple stock. 🙂
PS Universal Music has an inkling of business savvy left in its brain trusty by virtue of the Gbox service that it started in collaboration with Google. Unfortunately, this service is still for the Windows platform only, but it does sell DRM-free music in mp3 format. So, it may well become a viable challenge to Apple. PNM