Why Music is More Important Than Just Music

Michael Gartenberg – Why music is more important than just music Gartenberg blogs about Apple’s digital music strategy as a tool to gain a toehold in to your entire digital life. “We’re rapidly moving into this world I’ve talked about called contextual flow. It’s not just about me listening to my music at home on my stereo or even taking a few cassettes or CDs with me on the road. It’s about my information flowing to me whatever the given context is and whatever device I happen to be using at the time. Here’s the thing about Apple’s bits. They only flow to Apple devices or Apple controlled software. In short, it goes where Apple says it goes. That means the iTunes song I buy works fine an iPod but not an iRiver. And if I want to flow that music stream? Well, if I want it to move around my house it will only go to my stereo via an Airport Express. If I want it on my phone, it better be an Apple sanctioned one. If it goes on my PC, that PC better have iTunes on it. All of those scenarios have strong implications for who controls the content infrastructure going forward.”

Of course utilizing dominance in one area of personal tech to leverage control in another area of personal tech is nothing new. Perhaps the biggest area up for grabs in the next 10 years will be who controls the digital home of tomorrow.

Gartenberg’s right that Microsoft should be worried when he writes: “This is why Microsoft needs to be concerned. How bad is it? Well, as we expected, the iPod is having a runaway start to the holiday season. I haven’t seen one report, one commentary that even mentions ANY other device. Imagine Apple launches some new stuff with a strong push in 06 (Apple wisely ignores the noise of CES and prefers to wait until the following week for Macworld. They get the stage all to themselves and get to see everyone else’s hand a week before).”

Will we see a new Mac PVR at MacWorld this year? And if the iPod represents Apple’s toehold device for music, might the XBox 360 represent Microsoft’s toehold for gaming? Will one of these two companies own the digital home of tomorrow or will it continue to be a fractured market with each owning a slice along with the cable operators and satellite providers and niche companies like TiVo and Netflix?

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