By now, I’m sure you’ve read enough about Apple’s new iPod Nano, Motorola’s iTunes-based ROKR phone, and the new iTunes. If not, my colleagues over at Macworld have some of the most in-depth coverage around. But consider this: over the last few months, we’ve seen pundits predict that the public will cool to iPod while iTunes market share drops and the music industry ends its honeymoon with Apple.
Oops. If you want to see the single company that will dominate the music industry, and how music is marketed and sold, it’s clearly going to be Apple. Just how wrong are the Pod critics? Let us count the ways:
iPod Dominance Will Continue: The Nano is stunning, and Apple has quietly rolled out low-price, high-volume models and (other than Shuffle) product line-wide color. Meanwhile, the competition continues to hawk absurdly ugly, clunky models. iPod isn’t repeating Walkman history; people associate the brand name with one product alone — Apple’s. Meanwhile, Sony is ready to take on Apple with models that are clunkier, have monochrome screens, and cost more. Oh, and it won’t be shipping for months, by which point Apple will already be firmly entrenched. (See Gizmodo.
iTunes songs “play for sure” anywhere: Microsoft has been pushing a choice of devices for Windows Media, as part of its “plays for sure” campaign. Only problem — Windows Media doesn’t play on any of the devices people want. The Motorola ROKR is a pretty boring-looking phone, but the integration with iTunes is the best yet, and you can bet other phones will follow. (Including, most likely, a sexier phone like the RAZR running iTunes.) But that wasn’t the only announcement yesterday — check out the new iPod car integration from major makers.
The music industry looks plenty cosy: iTunes music sales still pale in comparison to overall music sales, but for cool factor, it can’t be beat. The problem is, no one but Apple has nailed the interface — or sells songs so they’ll play on the iPod, the main reason people are buying. I’ve been stunned how even novice, Windows-only users immediately get the iTunes Music Store. Oh yeah, and now you can buy Harry Potter and Madonna.
Bottom line? Apple is going to remain the most influential tech company on the music industry. And all of us are going to want a Nano for Christmas. Now if only it could record high-quality audio . . . MicroTrack, anybody?