The Guardian (UK) has published an article looking at the battle between Apple and everyone else in the online music download business. The article particularly focuses on Microsoftis new Windows Media Player 10 software, which among other things allows Windows users to take their rented music with them on portable media players. The article quotes Mark Mulligan of Jupiter Research as saying that the lack of an integrated hardware music player -- like Apple has with its iPod and iTunes Music Store (iTMS) -- will be a handicap for Appleis competitors. From the article:
"Someday, people might be able to download a new track, and also get a music video, interview with an artist or concert footage. While there will continue to be a strong market for audioonly devices, itis this kind of innovation that will offer consumers choice and take online music to the next level."
All of which is fine and dandy, except that there are already portable music devices out there and since WMP10 isnit out yet [itis available as a preview release] itis pretty clear that they havenit needed it yet.
Mark Mulligan, analyst with Jupiter Research, believes Microsoft may be disadvantaged in this area because Apple already has the market lead with its iPod product. "Normally when thereis anything to do with digital media youid expect Microsoft to be the key driver in the market but theyive been slightly late to market this time. At the moment the defining company is Apple and iTunes." In fact, believes Mulligan, the iPod is leading the digital music market as much as the iTunes store. If this pattern continues then people like Napster, who provide the online music store only, could have something of a problem.
There is much more information in the full article at the Guardianis Web site.