One of his Computerworld articles, re-published by Macworld, entitled "It's official: Apple is the new Microsoft", while guaranteed to get you hits, is not the most factual look at things. Nor the best thought-out.
First, he's using some weak relationships to justify his claims, and with the EMI deal, they're really weak:
People love iPods (including me; my family of four has purchased 12 iPods in the past few years). But iPods come bundled with iTunes. Want to buy music from Apple? Guess what? You must install iTunes. Want an Apple cell phone from AT&T? Yep! ITunes is required even if you want only to make phone calls. Want to buy ringtones for your Apple phone? iTunes.I ask, what's your point? None of this is hidden, none of this is unknown. You want an iPod, you use iTunes. However, that's not the same as his implication that you are forced to use the iTunes store exclusively. I have a number of tracks on my iPod from other places that sell MP3s from bands that aren't on iTunes, like Snocap. MP3s still work. As well, there are a number of ways to get ringtones on your iPhone that don't require iTunes at all. If you never wish to synchronize your iPhone to a computer, then you need iTunes exactly *once*...to activate it. After that, delete iTunes and have a party. You only need it for updates after that. Find a friend with iTunes, and use their system. It's no more onerous than Verizon or Sprint making you use their stores to activate their phones, or not letting you update the phones without their approved method. Actually, considering the hell that is smartphone updates in general, Apple's implementation is far superior.
Apple not only “bundles” iTunes with multiple products, it forces you to use it. At least with Internet Explorer, you could always just download a competitor and ignore IE.You can no more ignore IE in Windows than you can ignore Cocoa in Mac OS X. That's because IE is not in fact, an standalone product. Like Safari, it has a rather huge number of system frameworks that are all over Windows. IE is simply an implementation of various frameworks and libraries. Just like Safari. Mike's being a bit disingenuous here.
But operating systems have browsers as part of core functionality, too. Doesn’t Mac OS X come with Safari? Doesn’t the iPhone?As does Windows and damned near every Linux distribution.
And “bundling” works. Steve Jobs bragged this week that Apple has distributed 600 million copies of iTunes to date. The overwhelming majority of those copies were iTunes for Windows. And iTunes for Windows’ popularity isn’t driven by software product quality. ITunes is the slowest, clunkiest, most nonintuitive application on my system. But I need it because I love my iPods.Bundling, or maintaining control over the entire experience? On Windows, you can't claim that Apple is "forcing" you do do anything Mike, and we both know it. You want an iPod, you deal with that ecosystem, the same as if you want a Zune or an Xbox 360.
At least with Windows, you could reformat your PC and install Linux or any number of other PC-compatible operating systems. Can I reformat my iPod and install something else? Can I uninstall iTunes but keep using the iTunes store and my iPods? Apple strongly discourages all that, claiming that the iPod, the iPod software and iTunes are three components of the same product. But that’s what Microsoft said about Windows and IE.Okay this part is just stupid. But if Mike wants to play...can I reformat my Zune and run Linux or any number of other PC-compatible OS's? Why..no, no you cannot. Nor can you with a Windows Mobile device, or any one of a hundred devices running embedded OS's. Why?
Because neither the iPod, nor the Zune, nor the Treo, nor the Motorola Q is a PC-compatible device.
Mike should be ashamed of himself for trying to compare a handheld device to a full-on PC and whining that he can't use it just like something that has completely different hardware. That's almost moron-level logic there. But Mike has to make his point somehow, so he's taking what he can get.
The only downside is that he works out every day at the gym, where cardio machines face TVs that broadcast sound over FM radio. Six months later, when his iPod is stolen, he goes to buy another player — this time, he hopes, with an FM radio in it. Several competitors offer this feature, but not iPods. He’s about to choose a new player with an FM radio when it hits him: None of his files — now totaling 300 songs and 50 movies — will play on the new player. He bought and paid for all this content, but it only works with iPods and iTunes.Lord. Um...Mike? The iPod Radio Remote. Solves the problem nicely. If you're going to rag on a product for its failings, make sure you know the product better. As well, if your dad bought anything from the EMI non-DRM'd collection, then he'd have almost no problems at all here. See, Mike is confusing the problems caused by the stupidity that is DRM, something Apple has, quite publicly come out against, with his need to fill space on the article. If DRM were to get properly buried, then your dad would have no problem at all. Perhaps you should have shown him how to legally get his music without DRM, and spared him any trouble at all.
Apple has an iPod customer for life. Microsoft never had this kind of monopoly power. Sorry, dad. I should have bought you a tie.I've got a bunch of companies locked into Exchange that say Mike's talkin' stupid here.
That same shock rippled through the iPhone enthusiast community yesterday when Jobs announced with a straight face that iPhone ringtones based on iTunes songs would cost the full price of the song, plus 99 cents extra. What? The full song costs 99 cents! How on Earth can Apple seriously charge the same amount again for the ability to hear just 30 seconds of the song — the same length as the free iTunes “samples”?The same way that Verizon/Sprint/AT&T/etc use their monopoly power on its devices to charge you over twice that for a song to play, and the same song as a ringtone. Apple is hardly breaking new ground here. I think Mike needs to vent more at the group of liars and thieves that are all cell carriers here. As sad as it sounds, Apple is actually not hitting you as badly as everyone else. Does it suck? Sure. But, come on. Custom Ringtones are a luxury item for any phone. You can own an iPhone forever and never use one. In fact, out of every cell phone I've had since 1998, the iPhone is only the third one I've ever used any kind of custom ringtone on, and only the second where I had different ringtones for different people. It's a ringtone, not air.
Apple fully understands the power of monopoly pricing. The company has sold the 8GB iPhone for two prices in its short, three months of existence: $599 and, now, $399. When the iPhone was the only way to get the whole multitouch, big-screen, Wi-Fi iPod experience — when the product had no alternatives — the price was $599. One analyst estimated Apple’s cost to build an iPhone is $245.83. I don’t know if that’s true but, if so, more than half the user cost was profit. That’s theater soda pricing. But as soon as Apple introduced an alternative to the iPhone — the iPod Touch — Apple dropped the price by one-third.See, i cannot believe that Mike Elgan is so ignorant of the costs of a device such as the iPhone that he'd take a materials-only quote that isn't even authoritative and assume that engineering, developing and manufacturing have zero cost. He simply cannot be that ignorant, I refuse to believe it. Therefore, he's got to be playing some games here, and I really dislike that. As far as the price drops, well duh. That can't be a surprise to anyone. The amount? Maybe. But the drop itself? No way dude.
Imagine if another company were allowed to compete in the OS X media player market. These players would all drop to below $300. Don’t hold your breath, though; it’ll never happen. Apple has the power to exclude all others from software than runs on its media players. Microsoft could only dream of such power.Ah, my favorite part. The part where I can just say "Bullshit". Mike, you're so full of shit here that it beggars the imagination. There's nothing keeping someone from having another media player on OS X. In fact, I have one right now. VLC. There's nothing Apple is doing or can do, physically or psychologically that's keeping Microsoft from allowing the full range of Windows Media to be functional on Mac OS X. There's nothing Apple is doing, nor can do that would prevent Microsoft and one of its partners from creating a Creative Store or an MTV store, or even the Zune store on Mac OS X. The fact of the matter is that Microsoft refuses to bring the full Windows Media experience to any non-Microsoft platform unless it's through something like Silverlight. You don't get full Windows Media on non Microsoft platforms, period. But that's a Microsoft decision, not Apple.
Although full details haven’t been revealed, NBC apparently wanted more “flexibility” to charge higher prices for its TV shows on iTunes. Apple said no, and NBC was sent packing. NBC now plans to sell shows on alternative locations, such as its own Web site and on Amazon.com. Prediction: NBC will come crawling back to Apple and beg the company for inclusion, and on Apple’s terms. Why? Because iTunes is increasingly becoming the only venue in which media companies can succeed selling music and TV show.Again, bullshit. Here, let me just use Active X controls outside of IE on Windows. What? I can't? But that means I can only use Windows for these web sites I need to do my job! DAMN YOU STEVE JOBS!
Jobs rules like Bill Gates never did. If you want to succeed in the digital music or downloadable TV business, you’ll do things his way.
The only reason Jobs has the influence he does is because the music and media companies blatantly state they hate their customers and want to make it as hard as possible for anyone to view content outside of methods that they lock down far tighter than Jobs has to date. It's also because, well, face it. Other than Apple, the media companies are pretty damned stupid. if NBC can't succeed without Apple, that's not Apple's fault. They could easily make sure their content is usable by iTunes and iPods et al without deal one with Apple. But I bet they won't. Instead, they'll use some overly complicated and restrictive Windows Media DRM bullshit, and wonder why they aren't selling. Again, not Apple's fault. iTunes and the iPod handle a wide range of formats, only one of which is Apple-only. Again, Mike is guilty of playing with reality to make his story work better.
Is Apple a monopolist, copycat and bully? Yes, and deservedly so. And if anyone thinks Apple’s success is a problem, well, bringing in the lawyers wasn’t the solution for Microsoft, and it won’t be the solution for Apple.This comparison is funny when you consider how hard Apple pushes for no DRM on anything in the iTunes store, which would effectively gut any ability for them to "lock" you to the iPod or iTunes from a content POV.
Mike, the next time you have an article to write, and no good ideas, just tell us about something cute your kids did over the weekend. It'd be better than this tripe.