iTunes, One Billion Suckers Served

To every iTunes Music Store sucker, thanks a billion

ABC News: iTunes: One Billion Served Crank up the old PR and spin machine. Apple today announced their one billionth iTunes download today. The song? Speed of Sound by Coldplay.

“Over one billion songs have now been legally purchased and downloaded around the globe, representing a major force against music piracy and the future of music distribution as we move from CDs to the Internet,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Personally I’ve never bought an iTune and I don’t own an iPod. I think Apple’s DRM is awful and represents a major step back for us all. I think those that are investing in iTune digital libraries are suckers. You are basically betting that Apple’s proprietary DRM laced format will be the standard for the rest of your life. You are paying too much for your music and tying yourself to only Apple products going forward. More innovative ways to play your music may indeed come in the future but unless they are marketed by Apple you will not likely be able to use these devices with your iTunes files due to Apple’s tight proprietary control.

Personally I want nothing to do with it. I still collect my digital music the old fashioned way, I rip it straight from CDs to crystal clear high bit rate DRM free mp3s. These files of course can be played on any device and represent better value in my opinion for today’s consumer.

What happens when the killer phone is finally here? You know the one, built in terabyte of storage, lightening fast file transfer speeds, full satellite radio, a breathalyzer, your car and house key, a tiny little thing the size of credit card with a 12 mega pixel camera on it (hey it’s the future right, we can dream). What happens when this phone is out and you really want it and unfortunately Apple didn’t make it? That’s right, you’re a sucker then aren’t you. I thought so. You paid all that good money for your iTunes and now you can’t put them on your new phone because your new phone threatens Apple’s dominance. So who owns the music anyway? You or them? They do. You bought nothing. You bought the right to play their song on their product. It might work today. But I’m not about to bet that this will be the format du jour 10 years from now.

Of course the record labels won’t care about you being screwed because they’ll be happy to just have you buy your same music all over again. Just like you did when you bought it on LP, then cassette, then CD then from iTunes. Why charge you once when they can keep charging you over and over and over again?

And if you think Apple will be opening up their proprietary format anytime soon, think again. Apple makes virtually nothing on their iTunes downloads, after paying the labels, marketing costs, bandwidth costs, etc. they make peanuts. They make a *ton* of money on the other hand on selling iPods. This was the genius deal between Steve Jobs and the hacks over at the record labels who are just as big of suckers as you are and basically have done nothing but cannibalize existing more lucrative CD sales. They were short sighted and never thought to try to get a piece of the hardware sale and now they are yammering on about raising iTunes prices on you because they are bitter dogs over the screwing that Jobs gave them. Jobs of course is quick to turn around and call them greedy hacks, but can anyone here say “pot” “black”.

They will do everything they can to protect this market including screwing over you the customer who mistakenly thought you bought a song from them.

Above and beyond all though this has done absolutely zero to stop online digital music piracy despite Jobs’ central point in Apple’s spin release this morning.

Just look at the latest P2P numbers from BigChampagne, and I’m not even going to get into BitTorrent which makes the numbers BigChampagne tracks look tiny. And this does not even begin to scratch all of the other ways that music is being traded. Let me ask you a question. Can you rip your friends CD on your PC? Yeah I guess you can. Can you rip your brother’s CD on your PC? Yep this works too. Can you copy your entire digital music library of 100,000 mp3s and give a copy to your brother on Seagate 500 gig drive? Theoretically it’s possible right? What about sneakernet? Again, theoretically. Would it be possible to send that same hard drive via the U.S. mail to your new friend that you met last month on your My Space account? And would it be considered sharing if he sent it back to you in the mail full of his own 70 or 80 thousand favorite tunes. Welcome to the darknet ladies and gentlemen.

And what if you are just dying to get the latest CD from that hot new band. Again, theoretically, would it be possible to go down to Amoeba records, buy it for $14, take it home and rip it, then return it within 7 days to get 75% credit back? What’s that like $3.50 for the new CD? And with 12 songs that’s like what 29 cents a track? Hmmm… would I rather have a crystal clear high bit rate mp3 track for 29 cents or a sure to be antiquated DRM bloated track from iTunes for 99 cents?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating piracy here, per se. But the way I see it, if Apple is going to go to war with me the consumer to lock up my music and keep it off my innovative new devices of the future, then this doesn’t really represent a valid step forward away from piracy at all.

It will also be interesting to hear what Xeni Jardin has to say about the billionth download later tonight. I can’t tell if she was on World News Tonight Last night or will be on next Thursday. I’ll try to find out.

Also for more on the iTunes saga be sure and check out downhill battle’s great site on the subject.

And….. let the Appleheaded fan boys flame comments begin…..5, 4, 3, 2, 1 now.

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233 Replies to “iTunes, One Billion Suckers Served”

  1. Your arguement holds no water. Purchasing from iTunes is not much different than having bought a 100 8-tracks 25 years ago, or VHS tapes 15 years ago. Technology advances everyday. We’re never going to have a “safe” format for our media.

  2. Your arguement holds no water. Purchasing from iTunes is not much different than having bought a 100 8-tracks 25 years ago, or VHS tapes 15 years ago. Technology advances everyday. We’re never going to have a “safe” format for our media.

  3. Can I point out that AAC is NOT an Apple format. Apple Lossless is an Apple format, tunes purchased from the ITMS are in high quality AAC. AAC isn’t proprietary at all, it’s open source – unlike Apple Lossless, WMA or even mp3 which is licensed (not free to use as some people think). Since you write this article of course, Apple has changed it’s policy over DRM making people pay a premium for tracks without it, but ultimately due to market pressure non-DRM tracks will become the norm at the older lower prices, and I doubt many people will have bought 10,000 tunes by the time that happens.

    Personally I’ve always stuck to mp3 in iTunes, either for ripping hardcopy albums, or for the burn-to-CD-the-reencode route, for the simplicity of standardisation across players (software and hardware). For the same reason I don’t use the excellent AAC, I wouldn’t use Ogg Vorbis or WMA – they’re too limited at the moment where the market is dominated by the proprietary mp3 compression system.

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