Microsoft has just released it supposed "iPod killer" MP3 player and service.
They're "serious" about taking on Apple's dominance of the legal download market.
So serious that they've chosen to copy the caveman model that Apple and the rest of the magnates of the legal download world have chosen to sell songs with. Songs that can only be played on their own "Zune" player. Once more they will fix their songs prices and make their money off of subscriptions - Just like Apple.
In fact the only difference between the "Zune" and the "iPod" looks to be file sharing. The Zune will allow users to share files between Zune players over a Wi-Fi network. Those files will last three days and then will be automatically deleted from your Zune player.
And it's with this type of player and service they plan on beating Apple? Some difference!
While Steve Jobs and Bill Gates duke it out, you have to wonder if anyone will actually ask the question "maybe it's the downloading model you could change?"
If you ask me two things need to happen before legal downloading really and truly becomes competitive: individual songs need to sold at their free-market price, and the song files need to be easily portable between any generic MP3 player or computer.
Otherwise you might as well buy a CD and create MP3s from it for your own personal use. They won't have the power crazy restrictions that Apple and Microsoft seem addicted to. That alone makes the increase in price worth it.
And for those that love those subscriptions and think they are getting a deal with fixed song prices under $1 I would like to point out that you spend $250 on your MP3 player and >$10 a month on your subscription service. That's a heck of lot of overhead.
There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - they got the money from you in other ways and probably more than the free market price would allow.
Funny enough the recording industry agrees with me about the price fixing. The ease of portability is another issue. So long as parties that build MP3 players are the only ones providing the music they will always limit the portability of the songs they sell.
What we really need is for a Universal or another record company to start an online music service without fixed song prices that allows for ease of song portability... Wow Apple would sure be upset about that idea!