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It’s not about iPod, it’s about standards

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1

Buying music from ITMS is such a mistake at this point.

1. The comatability of AAC on other players is non-existent.

2. Sub-standard quality of the files.  They should be of a higher bit rate, but if ITMS were to sell larger/higher bit rate files, Apple would lose its claim of how many songs fit on the iPod.  The selling point of a Mini holding 500 songs is not as strong as saying 1,000.

3. You will get burned.  It’s just a matter of time before the files are offered at a higher bit rate and you will be stuck with an inferior file.

I guess it’s okay to buy a song here and there from ITMS store, but I would never by the whole album as opposed to ripping my own CD.

Posted by BigSid in Los Angeles on February 19, 2004 at 9:36 AM (CST)

2

It is obvious to me that someone has their head either stuffed up someone’s rear end or has been smoking, injecting, or otherwise taking some strong drugs.

“The iTunes Music Store sells music only in the AAC audio-encoding format and the iPod is the only portable music player that supports this format. The rest of the online music world has settled on a different audio standard

Posted by olsonbw on February 19, 2004 at 9:59 AM (CST)

3

mp3 from itunes - ie without DRM? Could you show me how to purchase these?

Posted by dmeineck on February 19, 2004 at 10:03 AM (CST)

4

I hate this argument soooo much.  You think WMA means more choice?  I do not run Windows (I’m a Linux user), and to me WMA means I have no choice; I simply cannot play the files because I do not have a Windows machine. 

But yet I happily use my iPod every day with Linux.

So remind me again why WMA is so much better and “all about choice”?  Sure, it’s about choice.  As long as you choose Windows.

Posted by Michael Sherman on February 19, 2004 at 10:03 AM (CST)

5

I am a Windows iPod lover and ITMS does NOT sell MP3’s .... ONLY AAC with apples DRM Wrapper on it.

I dont think any other device can play AAC from the ITMS because of the Apple DRM wrapper, but I’m not 100% sure on that.

I wont buy music from anystore until both become more of an open standard. I dont want to buy AAC from ITMS and in 3 years buy a new mp3 music player from sony because now they have the hot sh*t you know…. I also dont want to buy WMA because of the same thing…. MP3 made it so easy because everyone supported it…. not its such a mixed bag that I dont want to be left with purchased music that is only supported by a single player….—-sigh—-

So I guess its downloading mp3’s for me—-

btw, I know sony has atrac(or whatever) and so I will never buy a sony mp3 player as long as they use that crap either…. and I think their store when it opens will only sell Atrac as well….

These format wars suck…..

me

Posted by montivfx on February 19, 2004 at 10:08 AM (CST)

6

BigSid - You hit the nail directly on the head. Except I don’t think you realize which nail you hit.

It IS all about how many songs fit on a “MP3” device including iPods (which can play either AAC or MP3). Note that AAC is highter quality than MP3 and far smaller than AIFF (CD format) or WMA (MS’s format).

3. You will get burned. It’s just a matter of time before the files are offered at a higher bit rate and you will be stuck with an inferior file.

Care to learn a little about history here? Go back to late 1800s and you will find very primitive sound recording/playback devices. As technologies progressed we got the 78rpm records. Then 33rpm records. Then 8 track tapes. Then cassette tapes. Then CDs and now MP3/AAC players.

Right now the best cost effective technology for mass storage MP3/AAC devices are hard drives. Sure you can get 300gb 3.5 ” hard drives for maybe $200. But nobody wants to carry around a boom box sized device (hard drive + electronics + BIG batteries to run this for 8 hours). So companies like Apple have to use what is cost effective and as small as possible. Which gives us the current group of MP3 and AAC players.

So you are telling me that you would be very happy to limit yourself to 500 songs instead of 10,000? That’s about what it would be to have songs in AIFF format VS AAC.

Also note that when you take a CD and import the songs into an MP3/AAC device the songs are NOT in AIFF format anymore. So you are no better off than downloading them from iTunes.

I’ve heard all the BS from people about sound quality. I’m not saying you but MOST people can BARELY tell the difference between AAC and CD quality because they are rarely in an environment with good to great sound accoustics. Mediocre (real life) accoustics is what most of us live in because of all the noise polution we deal with all the time every day with our MOBILE music devices.

As time goes on and the capcity of small hard increases there will be a push for AIFF formatted songs on music devices. We are probably five years away from this. Until then. AAC is worlds apart from cassette tapes in sound quality (MUCH better). And we don’t have to mess with cassettes or CDs.

That is the trade-off with size, easy of use, and far less hassle vs sound quality. It is a good trade off for now. Technology and people will keep pushing the envelope. Eventually we’ll be able to have 10,000 or 50,000 AIFF files in our pocket.

Posted by olsonbw on February 19, 2004 at 10:13 AM (CST)

7

Bigsid, I totally agree. Not only do they lose their claims regarding how many songs fit. But, expected battery life decreases as well.

My entire library is lame encoded using -alt preset standard leaving me with songs that average a 210-220 kbps bit rate.

I only get 4 hrs out of my 3G 16 GB iPod battery. Do others share this experience? It makes sense to me though, the hard drive has to spin up twice as often with my higher bit rate.

Posted by Spire in Vancouver on February 19, 2004 at 10:38 AM (CST)

8

Please.

.Wma sucks, period. The music quality is worse than with .aac, and I won’t even START on the video!

If worse came to wore, people could still transfer their .wma’s to .aac’s. Sure, you lose quality this way, but I’ve done it and it’s not much.

And for those who are complaining about the bitrates that iTunes offers, get over it. We’re not all playing these songs on 15,000 speakers—to me (and I’m sure a good portion of the downloading public will agree), the quality is just fine.

The whole .wma vs .aac argument is just as bad as the mini vs. iPod one.

Posted by narco in Burbank on February 19, 2004 at 10:41 AM (CST)

9

Hope this doesn’t get me in trouble with anyone but here goes:
I think that the iPod should support as many formats as possible including .wma. I don’t have any music encoded that way but lots of people do. The more formats you support, the more potential customers you have. Standing firm on only supporting AAC, MP3, AIFF, WAV will eventually leave the iPod behind as other brands start supporting the most common formats. I am not a Mac guy but I would hate to see the iPod lose market share because Apple has decided to once again become an island (just my opinion so don’t flame please). The Apple products I have used over the years have been superior to the Windows equivalents, but staying in the Apple nich has kept their market small. The iPod has allowed the MS folks to enjoy what the Apple folks have enjoyed. I hope Apple does what it can to keep it that way.

Posted by Tom on February 19, 2004 at 10:48 AM (CST)

10

I really find is humorous that so many people are arguing about sound quality when only a couple decades ago we were buying music on popping and crackling vinyl discs and hissing cassette tapes!!! 

Does anyone remember when CDs first appeared.  People hated them because they supposedly sounded too harsh and shrill, even with smoothing filters applied?  Somehow, over the years, we got used to them and now CDs are our new standard of judgment.

I think we need to listen with new ears to each new technological advance in digital audio.

Personally, when I convert my CDs to ACC and load ‘em on my ‘POD, I don’t hear an obvious difference in the sound, but I do love the fact that I can take my entire CD collection with me wherever I may go!

Posted by The Raven in USA on February 19, 2004 at 10:59 AM (CST)

11

I have never understood why anyone that is interested in sound quality or cares about it would buy 128 bit rate music.
Why don’t we force music sites through customer demand to give us better quality?
Personally I encode at 192 and only will buy mp3’s at 192, thus I don’t use iTunes or any wma sucker site.
Proprietary formats have no place in a music library.
Record companies have laughed at us for years for being willing to buy the same record on vinyl, cassette, cd and now again via download.  I know I have done it - or am I the only one?
It won’t be long before higher quality downloads will be out there and how foolish are we going to feel for buying an inferior product??

Posted by snappy on February 19, 2004 at 11:00 AM (CST)

12

The arguments so far supporting iTMS:

- olsonbw’s friend is supposedly able to buy and download mp3s fom the iTunes Music Store.

- Michael Sherman complains that WMA is not about choice, because he cannot play WMA files on his Linux machine. (note: He cannot even purchase/download AAC iTMS’ AAC files on that same Linux machine, I assume).

- olsonbw believes in quantity over quality.

- Paraphrasing narco: “not satisfied with iTunes bitrates? get over it.”

Posted by eric on February 19, 2004 at 11:01 AM (CST)

13

Regarding the original article, I find it hard to believe that the people buying inexpensive music players are also paying $1 per song to fill them. They’re using existing MP3s and CDs, and likely getting their new music from illegal download networks.

Posted by kauffee on February 19, 2004 at 11:07 AM (CST)

14

He’s right, but has drawn invalid conclusions because, once again, confusion between compression and DRM is present.

It IS about standards. AAC is an MPEG standard, it’s the generation beyond MP3. WMA is NOT a standard, it’s yet another blatant attempt by Microsoft to force proprietary formats down user’s thoats.

Apart from compression formats - there’s DRM. No one who buys such proprietary DRM’d files can reasonably expect to carry them forward. Buying ANY current DRM’d on-line music isn’t any cheaper than buying and ripping CDs, the quality is worse, and it locks you into a proprietary format.

Anyone who wants to protect new investment in music should be buying CDs, not on-line content.

Posted by m.s on February 19, 2004 at 11:18 AM (CST)

15

I don’t think the original article had anything to do with ACC vs. WMA as a format, but of course that whats you guys turn it into. So anyhow back to the actual topic, this guy says that people who have bought large amounts of WMAs will be unlikely to switch to iTunes because they have a financial investment in files that won’t work with iPod.

1. Looking at the market shares, we see that the number of people currently in that position will be fairly low. Also, keep in mind that the current market size is only a tiny fraction of the eventual market, so the majority of future digital music consumers are not yet invested in either standard. So overall, the problem the author speaks of is really not that great. Yet.

2. It seems that if someone is licensed to own a song in one format they should automatically be authorized to acquire the song free of charge in another format. Or at the very least trade in for another format. This would require an open, standardized format for sharing of licensing info between online music retailers and the record labels. This would be good for everyone as it would remove many people’s fear of buying online music and result in higher sales for the record labels. Probably provide the record labels some good demographic data too.

Posted by Biff on February 19, 2004 at 11:27 AM (CST)

16

...or maybe burn thier downloads onto an audio cd, perhaps?

Posted by Chimpee on February 19, 2004 at 11:27 AM (CST)

17

Thanks for your excellent post, m.s.  It really burns my biscuits when people refer to .wma as a standard.

But as far as carrying my DRM’d files forward, I disagree with you.  I’ll burn and then reconvert my files to the latest ‘standard’ and lose some ‘quality’ in the process.  The files will be DRM-free at that point and the difference in quality are just too small for me to give a damn!

Posted by The Raven in USA on February 19, 2004 at 11:32 AM (CST)

18

Quote from article
“The same people who buy inexpensive players are also purchasing music online from sources other than the iTunes Music Store”

Who’s buying music online from anything other than Itunes?  If wma is used by people who buy cheap flash players then it is because these same people are ripping their cds to wma not because they are buying tons of drm’ed wma files.  Wma drm can be extremly unfriendly so it is more likely that anyone who buys a cheap flash player rips to mp3 so I doubt there are tons of people with wma files wishing they could buy an ipod. 

Also remember that Apple can keep its music store going because it has 5 billion in the bank (mostly due to the ipod).  Who will the miniscule number of people who bought drm’ed wma files be annoyed with when Napster and MusicMatch et al fail. Surely not Apple.

Posted by somas1 on February 19, 2004 at 11:34 AM (CST)

19

>First - iTunes does NOT sell only AAC formatted music.

The author is right, this is what its stated on the website “The iTunes Music Store sells music only in the AAC audio-encoding format and the iPod is the only portable music player that supports this format.”

There might be AAC player out there like Panasonic player, Nokia NGage and both of them plays AAC but they dont play DRM AAC from iTunes music store. You are blinded by your (iPod) zealotry.

Posted by Adam on February 19, 2004 at 11:36 AM (CST)

20

This is one war that Apple will win. Apple has created many new markets over the years only to be undercut by a cheaper imitator(s). Now Apple develops the iPod and the iTunes Music Store and everybody and their brother now has a digital audio player and music store. Remember BuyMusic.com? No, because they couldn’t properly market or manage their music store. Napster lost $15 million in its first two months! http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/business/7988684.htm Apple is on its 4th generation of iPod while everyone else is catching up. WMA, NOT a standard. AAC IS a standard. AAC w/Apple DRM Iis NOT a standard. However, Real has licensed Apple’s codec to support playback. Apple does not and should not support WMA just because everyone else seems to be doing it. This is more than an issue of sound quality…its a matter of company politics. Everything about the Apple music experience is made by Apple:iPod, iTunes, iTMS. MS has no influence at all over how Apple sells its music and that’s the way it needs to be for Apple. iTunes is to digital music as Kleenex is to tissue or Jello is to gelatin. Non-geeks think all music stores are iTMSs. Would I replace my entire music library with AACs from the iTMS, No. But I would give gift certificates or pre-paid cards as gifts. I own a couple dozen iTunes AACs and all were free (thank you Pepsi) and a lot of other people now own iTunes AACs as well for free. Apple has 56% of the (legal) download market and the #1 digital music player. That’s where my money is going. Plus as an ultrageek, I like being able to boot my Mac from an iPod or just storing files. How many other “music players” have a built-in contacts manager, calendar, and iPhoto auto-sync features? http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=&Section_Id=201526&pcount;=&Product_Id=158350 None.

Posted by Russ on February 19, 2004 at 2:30 PM (CST)

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