Microsoft taps Xbox exec to fight iPod | iLounge News


Microsoft taps Xbox exec to fight iPod

imageMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer has tapped Senior Vice President Robbie Bach to revamp the company’s digital music offerings in an effort to keep up with Apple. Bach, who is also the head of Microsoft’s Xbox unit, has been called a “rising star” in the tech industry for his work on the video game console.

“Bach is expected to be given the authority to push for a range of changes, such as setting up a team focused solely on digital music, reorganizing product groups, or acquiring companies,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. “One immediate mission for him will be to make Microsoft’s new Xbox a hub for handling digital music.”

Ballmer reportedly assigned Bach to the new music role after an executive retreat in which his team privately showed the new Xbox 360 and marketing plans. “Later, executives talked about how they might employ lessons learned from Mr. Bach’s group,” the paper notes. “The retreat included a brief analysis of rival Apple’s music strategy.”

Microsoft insiders say that Bach plans to work more closely with certain media player makers to aid them in building better devices. “It would be an extension of the PlaysForSure branding program Microsoft started last year that subjects partners’ music players and services to a battery of tests to assure they will work smoothly with music services,” the paper reports.

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New Xbox = new fugly

New/Old SVP to take on iPod = stupid-stick foolish

PlaysForSure = MS Oxymoron

Ballmer = too much money to think straight any longer and needs to stick to tending his new yacht

Posted by FahrenheiPod 451 on June 14, 2005 at 10:11 PM (CDT)


This guy is the shining light at the end of the tunnel, he will hopefully put the iPod to its FINAL resting place next to the N-GAGE, the Dreamcast and the VCR.

Posted by HasaniPodandhatesthatfactthathedoes on June 14, 2005 at 11:18 PM (CDT)


Competition benefits everyone.

Posted by Qasahn on June 14, 2005 at 11:28 PM (CDT)


Sorry Hasani, but how is a guy who works with audio quality control going to kill the iPod?

Oh I know! Secret snippets of audio will be played that says “Buy Windows only..”

Posted by chrisc on June 15, 2005 at 12:11 AM (CDT)


PlaysForShure=PlaysLike… well you get the iDea

Posted by *meep* on June 15, 2005 at 3:29 AM (CDT)


You can’t compare the iPod to the N-gage or the Dreamcast. Both didn’t have the success that Apple has with the iPod.

Plus, if there is an “iPod killer” it won’t be from Microsoft. Hell, I doubt there will ever be an official “iPod killer,” more than likely it’ll just fade from popularity leaving behind a flooded market. Kind of like how the Walkman died.


Posted by narco on June 15, 2005 at 3:38 AM (CDT)


PlaysForSure - I can’t help chuckling every time I see that! These music tracks won’t play at all on more than 80% of personal media players. How Sure is that? :o)

Posted by Magic Rabbits on June 15, 2005 at 4:29 AM (CDT)


Luckily enough, AAC-Files won’t play on ANY other device than the iPod ...

Posted by Lars on June 15, 2005 at 5:38 AM (CDT)


I can’t help but think that PlaysForSure sounds negative, like Microsoft have to try and make customer’s believe that a file will play, rather that just the view that it should always play. It’s the whole Windows mind-set that users expect that it won’t work, or might not work and have to be reasured that it will or that it has worked (like a confirmation dialog that Windows has done something you asked it to, whereas the Mac OS just does it ‘cos you asked it to.)

Of course Apple seems to have the view that it should always work, and don’t seem to have to comapaign to make users believe that it will work (except the switch campaign which really just confirms my point).

What I’m saying is that we, as users, should be able to buy stuff that just works as we expect it to (i.e. that it does what it says does) and not have to worry about versions of file formats and incompatabilities.

E.g. you can buy a cheap MP3 player that plays WMA files and it says it does. However it won’t play DRM’d WMA files - why not? It says it plays WMA on the box, but all consumers have the knowledge to know why it won’t.
Another MP3 player that can DRM’d WMA files and says it does, but then it can’t play WMA files from subscription services - why not? As a consumer how am I supposed to know this if it doesn’t say so on the box.
Then another an MP3 player that can play all WMA files and has a PlaysForSure logo on it. And that can play any WMA files… Until MS decide they need another, better version of the file format that can only be played on PlaysForSure2 devices. Then PlaysForSure 1 becomes defunct. For most consumers that’s too much to think about.

Apple’s approach is that all it’s devices are controlled by them. If they update the formats they can update all the devices, the consumer just installs the updates when Apple tells them they need it. You can play stuff from the iTunes Music Store - and that’s it. If Apple add a subscription service to the iTMS, they just issue an update and all iPods play it, and that’s it. It’s simple, and that’s what most consumers need - simplicity.

Of course this limits you to Apple’s way of doing things, and I’m not saying everything they do it the right way, but at least you know it’ll work!

Posted by struddie on June 15, 2005 at 6:16 AM (CDT)


The biggest deal is the “Janus” tech that MS is using to enable cross-platform date-limited subscriptions. This is the “bait” to lure people into paying for a monthly all-you-can-eat buffet, with the added bonus of convincing them to pay extra for a “permanent” download of any tracks they like.

Janus is a big hit - Napster uses it, Yahoo uses it, and now Ericcson is partnering with Napster to offer it across multiple mobile networks.

The mobile network numbers dwarf the combined mp3 player/pda/satellite market. Around 700m per year sales. Currently around 10% of them, 70m, are music-enabled, and that percentage is sure to rise quickly. What will happen if and when most of these phones also say “PlaysForSure” - then people begin to accept it as a fact of their life, as background wallpaper. It becomes “standard”. this is what Intel did with the “Intel Inside” logo. It cost Intel billions (Intel pays a large portion of your advertising costs if you include the logo or the “bong” sound) and will cost MS billions, but it will succeed in spreading it as a new standard.

So in principle you will be able to move your music and playlists between your mobile, your xbox, your PC, and your car. That is the clear advantage here - the xbox becomes just another touchpoint, another access device.

The only thing keeping Apple from offering a similar subs service (aside from the usual Jobsian stubborness) is that Apple has not devised a workable, secure Janus-like time-limited option for Quicktime. But that will come, in time, either through internal development or (more likely) through purchase of a third-party company (as was the case with FairPlay).

Posted by Demosthenes on June 15, 2005 at 7:42 AM (CDT)


What is this Janus crap can you post a link to it. And the only reason i am on a pc is because i can buld them my self. If apple sold the parts at a ok price and let the users buld i would have one of those. Also when is the linux iTunes going to be coming out. iPod is the only reason I am running windows on this pc on the other 4 I am runing Linux or Unix (Closeest thing to mac OS) and this is my best comp the others are usb 1.1 so that just won’t do.

Posted by Jeem1231 on June 15, 2005 at 9:16 AM (CDT)


“...revamp the company‚Äôs digital music offerings in an effort to keep up with Apple.” 

Boy it must have felt good to write that.  Let’s write it again…In an effort to keep up with Apple. 


Posted by HMCIV on June 15, 2005 at 1:22 PM (CDT)


What is this Janus crap can you post a link to it.

Jeem, meet Google. It’s a “search engine” that lets you “find out” about “crap”.

Posted by Demosthenes on June 15, 2005 at 4:15 PM (CDT)


FahrenheiPod - I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds the new XBox ugly.  I keep reading all these articles that can’t help but gush over how lovely it is.  It’s like they’ve all been told that it is attractive, and so they just accept that it is.  I would rather have it look more like the Mac Mini if it has to be “attractive”, but black.  After all, everthing else in my living room is black - TV, VCR, DVD, Stereo, Speakers.  Why do I want something that stick’s out, and stands on end for that matter.

Better yet, give me a full-component size stacking unit so that I can add to the stereo cabinet and I won’t even notice it.  That would be ideal.

Posted by pickme on June 16, 2005 at 11:59 AM (CDT)


I like your site

Posted by Jorje on April 11, 2006 at 11:38 AM (CDT)

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