Mix: Machine love, DRM suit, Subscriptions, Cellcasting | iLounge News

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Mix: Machine love, DRM suit, Subscriptions, Cellcasting

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2005
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“The iPod is a very powerful identity technology,” says Sherry Turkle, director of the Initiative on Technology and the Self at MIT. “The iPod is just one more technology that uses the computer as the second self—a reflection of who we are as people, a way of seeing ourselves in the mirror of the machine.”

AppleInsider reports: “Five of the top companies in the online music industry are being sued by an individual who claims that the digital rights management software used by the Internet’s most popular music download services violates a seven-year-old technology patent.”

BusinessWeek’s Peter Burrows says he has a “more secure sense of ownership” with music from RealNetworks’ Rhapsody service and hopes that Apple will soon offer an iTunes subscription service.

On the ZDNet blog, Dana Gardner says that “we may need to soon drop the ‘pod’ part of podcasting in favor of ‘mobile’ or ‘cell’-casting” because “the ultimate device for listening to podcasts will soon be cell phones.” [via MDN]

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Comments

1

The BusinesWeek writer is pretty clueless, how can an article like this get pass the editors?  You can get your music purchased from iTunes on another PC anytime.

Also, I do not agree with his views on subscription.  What if the subscription company goes out of business?  What if the record labels changes their minds?  What if the prices increase 500%?  You pay for 5 years and you end up with nothing!

Posted by khyberny on August 17, 2005 at 8:45 AM (PDT)

2

Podcasts are usually, what, like 20 minutes long or so?  No way am I going to want to listen to that on my cellphone.  I get tired of holding the phone up to my ear (or having a public conversation via speakerphone) after a 20 minute conversation.

Posted by dethbrakr on August 17, 2005 at 11:07 AM (PDT)

3

dethbrakr: Two words.  Wireless headset.  They usually come with phones these days, and if they don’t, they’re $5-10.

Posted by Jeff on August 17, 2005 at 11:52 AM (PDT)

4

Heck, I meant to type “Handsfree headset”, but wireless works too - just not as cheap.

Posted by Jeff on August 17, 2005 at 11:56 AM (PDT)

5

Khyberny-

If the subscription service goes out of business you’ve actually lost nothing.  The point of the subscription service is that you are paying on a month-to-month basis to listen to their entire library of music however much you want during that month.

The analogy would be if you’re cable company went out of business…you wouldn’t be able to claim that you lost anything, would you?

Plus remember, the companies that are trying to be major players in the subscription business are in no more danger of going out of business than Apple.  Do you think Microsoft is going out of business soon?  How about Yahoo?  Yes, Napster and Real will be gone sooner, but you would still lose nothing if they left.

The Labels are going to change their minds regardless of what service you’re using.  They want Apple to hike up the prices.  Never in the history of the business have singles been sold for so cheap in comparison to albums.  The Labels don’t want 99 cents per single…they want $3.00 and they’re gonna make that happen sooner than you think.  Albums may not go up so soon, but singles sure will.

Anyhow, hang in there, Apple will offer a subscription service within a year, and you along with a bunch of other people will be praising it to no end.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on August 17, 2005 at 12:45 PM (PDT)

6

Since no phones actually interface with podcatchers…and only the ROKR phone is even being considered for iTunes…

Yeah, I’m gonna say no to podcasts on phones.  Storage issues alone would be a problem in the States…domestic phones generally suck in that department.

I will go out on a limb here and declare that podcasts will NEVER become a primarily-cellular medium.  EVER.

Posted by stark23x on August 17, 2005 at 1:40 PM (PDT)

7

The point is, paying for the “privilege” of listening to their library sucks. The whole idea of renting music is just not appealing, as shown by the losses posted by these companies in that area.
The original method of buying music (buying a CD/tape) allows the buyer to keep the music once they pay. That is the idea. Pay once, keep your music. The subscription model makes you pay over and over again, and you don’t get to keep the music. Where’s the advantage? So that if, like a #####, you don’t regularly back up your music, it’s still all safe? Yeah, as long as you keep on paying for it. There’s a reason people hate the idea. People want to keep their music, to have it be theirs. That’s the general idea behind BUYING something. With a cable company, though, you’re not paying for something that you would keep. You’re paying for continually new programming, as well as content that you can’t/wouldn’t buy for keeps. Cable is more similar to satellite radio than anything else.

Posted by Joshdude in Long Beach, CA on August 17, 2005 at 1:49 PM (PDT)

8

Talking Madness, cable tv is not a good analogy with subscription music.  Most people will only want to watch a single tv show episode or movie once, whereas they will want to listen to a single song many times. If your cable tv stops, it’s a loss of future content.  If your music subscription stops, it’s a loss of past and future content (unless you’ve bought the songs individually).

Posted by Gary on August 17, 2005 at 1:59 PM (PDT)

9

Yes but his point was that you can’t easily download it on another computer; you would have to burn it to a DVD or use some third party program to pull it off of the iPod.  Unless there is some feature that both him and I are unaware of, at which point Apple needs to do a better job of making note of it.

What if Apple goes out of business, Microsoft releases an OS that last version of iTunes Apple released won’t run on, and five years after that the your iPod and your legacy computer running iTunes broke….all that music you paid for won’t work.  With a subscription service you would just stop paying Apple and switch to a competitor, easy as that.  I personally really like the idea of subscription services, mostly from an exploritative perspective.  I hope Apple releases such a service very soon.  A subscription service alongside the iPod and the traditional .99c/download model could—in my opinion—really solidify Apple’s position on the top.

Posted by Bryce on August 17, 2005 at 2:40 PM (PDT)

10

But, if one subscription company goes out of business, you can look to another and get all the same music at about the same cost, you will barely notices a bump if you plan it right. It’s not a loss of future content because the content can be found at a similar price at another location…just like cable.

Posted by Corey on August 17, 2005 at 2:42 PM (PDT)

11

The Cable analogy is only half good. With Cable I can make a permanent copy of any tv show or movie I watch on VHS or DVD, and that copy is mine forever. When my cable service runs out, they don’t come take my tapes away.

No such system works with Rhapsody or other subscription services. The services only work well if you constantly listen to new music and normally pay $15 or $20 a month on music downloads anyway. If you’re like me and spend sporadically only on music you really like to listen to over and over again, a subscription would be a waste of money. It’s all in how you listen to music.

Even my subscription to Audible.com lets me keep my audiobooks, but then again I’m only allocated 2 free downloads a month. If a subscription service came out that said “15 free songs/2 albums/$10 a month” and I get to keep them, then I might be sold.

Posted by dcmacnut on August 17, 2005 at 5:45 PM (PDT)

12

Here’s some math for you guys who don’t believe in the subscription model…

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE:

I bought my first CD in 1988, and now I have a collection of 2,200 CD’s.  At an average cost of $10 per CD my library has cost me $22,000.  Currently you can subscribe to the Yahoo! Music for $60 per year.

$22,000 (cost of my library) / $60 (cost of annual Yahoo! Music subscription) =  366 years of subscriptions

If the service was around when I started building my library I would’ve only spent… 17 years * $60 per year = $1,020

Geez I would’ve saved $20,980 to date.

GOING FORWARD WITH A SUBSCRIPTION:

If you bought one CD per week for the next five years you will have 260 CD’s and it will cost you $2,600.  The same time period of subscribing to Yahoo! would cost you $300.  A savings of $2,300 over five years.

If you are a listener who only buys one CD per month, the savings is still $300 (half of what it would cost to buy the CD’s) over a five year period.

I’m all for the subscription model.  Really, what does it matter if you own the file?  In my case, the cost of ownership is $20,980.  Plus, the subscription services give you access to a million tracks, not just the ones you buy.

** The analogy between music subscriptions and cable TV subscriptions is valid.  Some have noted that once you watch a show you rarely go back to it, but that isn’t true.  TV shows make more money in syndication (re-runs) than they do in first runs.  People have been watching re-runs forever.  Now people are buying TV shows on DVD which I feel is ridiculous when you can probably catch a re-run of the show on cable.  Also, songs have a limited life.  We listen to music more times than we watch a particular show, but I have plenty of albums I haven’t listened to in years, and ones that I will probably never listen to again.  I bet you have some songs that you would never pull down off the shelf again.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on August 17, 2005 at 8:09 PM (PDT)

13

I never said the subscription model was flawed. I merely said it is good for “some” people. People like you who prefer to rent their music rather than own it. But how long do you plan to stay subscribed so you can listen to your “million tracks”? If you are in your mid-twenties, and you plan on staying subscribed for the long-term, you’re looking at a nother 50 or more years of payments. True 50 times $60 is only $3000, but remember that the $5 Yahoo deal is temporary. It’s likely to jump up to the “normal” $15 a month model at some point, and Yahoo reserve the right to change your subscription terms without notice. Sorry, only 100 songs a month subscribers at $15. Unlimited will cost you $20 or more. That may be far fetched, but not as far fetched as your justifying a subcription model because it “saved” you $20,000.

At least you have something tangible to show for your $20,000. If you don’t listen to a CD anymore pawn it or sell it to a used record store.  Over the last two and a half years, I’ve purchased 1400 tracks from iTunes. Half are albums, a third are from gift cards I’ve recieve and the rest free songs of the week, pepsi winnings, or just ones my brother has given me.  To be generous, lets say that my songs cost me $1500 (including taxes). Using your suscription analogy, the same songs would have cost you just $150. But I can stop paying and keep listening to the songs. For you to do the same, you need to keep paying. In 5 years, you’ll have paid $1650 for the songs that I paid $1500 for. In 10 years, you’ll have paid $3650 - twice what I paid for them. So, who comes out better in the long run, eh?

Like I said at the beginning, you seem to be a candidate for subscription/rental because of they way you listen to music. I’m not attacking your choice, just your choice of analogy. Comparing relative dollar savings between purchase/rental is like comparing apples to oranges. They are two different products. Some of us don’t want to rent our songs.  Subcriptions are OK for some, not for others.

Finally, do you want to know the chief reason I will never join one of the current subscription services? First, I’m a Mac user and none of the services work on the Macintosh. Second, none of the services work with iPod (Real’s Harmony notwithstanding). Even if these two issues were resolved, I’d likely never join a subscription plan because I like to own my music. Period.

Posted by dcmacnut on August 17, 2005 at 9:03 PM (PDT)

14

dcmacnut-

Nice try, but do the math.  You say you have spent $1,500 on iTMS.  That would’ve gotten you 23 years of Yahoo! subscription.  Even at the rate of $15 per month your $1,500 would’ve gotten you eight years of listening to any song you wanted to.

Your case also makes an assumption that you have bought all the music you’re going to buy at this point.  This is assumed because you compared what you’ve spent in 2 1/2 years to what a subscriber will pay in five years.  Wouldn’t have been more fair of your statement to say that theoretically you will have spent $3,000 in five years at your current rate of spending?  In ten years at your current rate of spending you would’ve spent $6,000.  A subscriber would’ve spent only $600 over the same ten year span at the current subscription rate.  The assumption you made that the Yahoo! service would increase in price is also possibly wrong.

Dude, admit it, the subscription model would save you tons of money over the long haul.  But, if you have some fixation on owning the tracks, that’s your prerogative.  I will say that it really makes little sense to own the tracks.  What are you going to do if, and when Apple starts to sell your tracks in a higher quality format?  You’re going to be left with the dilemma of replacing your collection, or keeping an inferior product.  I remember replacing hundred of vinyl LP’s with CD’s.  I hated wasting my money to buy again what I already owned.  I remember replacing VHS tapes of movies I loved with DVD’s.  I would’ve liked to have just paid $5 a month and moved on with the newer format.

I TOTALLY agree with you that as a Mac user who may not have access to the Yahoo! service, the decision has been made for you.  I venture to guess that someone like yourself, who spends a lot of money on music, will switch and embrace the subscription plan as soon as it it available.  If you don’t, pardon the insult, but you’re a fool.  Think of the money it will save you.

Admit it, man.  The day Apple offers the plan, you’re gonna be the first in line.

Posted by Talking Madness in Los Angeles on August 17, 2005 at 10:53 PM (PDT)

15

And I think the reasons stated above about a subscription service not being avaliable on the Mac and for the iPod is the exact reason my it hasn’t taken off.  In my opinion, 15% market share is pretty good considering the service doesn’t work on 70%+ of the portable audio players on the the market.  When I move onto my college’s high-speed network I am seriously considering signing up for Yahoo!‘s service just so I can have a nice large audio collection my computer, there are already songs that I would love to have but just can’t afford to buy them right now.  But at $5 or even $15 a month, the subscription service seems very worth it.

Posted by Bryce on August 17, 2005 at 11:38 PM (PDT)

16

Bryce - I completely agree with you that the reason sub svc hasn’t taken off is because of the iPod incompatibility. I’ve had an iPod for a couple years now and am pretty irritated that I can’t get subscription service onto it. The moment that it’s available I’m jumping on.

The thing the *really* bugs me though, is that most likely, the only sub svc I’ll be able to get is through iTunes. I really want to be able to subscribe to Yahoo’s service because it ties in with their Launch Music, which I’ve subscribed to for quite a while. Most excellent service in my opinion. I’ve learned of so many bands from this service. If I could have “recommended” songs added to my iPod based on the thousands of songs I’ve already rated, I’d be a very, very happy camper.

Which brings me to a real annoyance of mine with Apple. “Think different” was just about the most deceptive marketing slogan I can think of. It should have read “Think like Apple. Don’t *even* think of anything else.” I feel completely roped in using an iPod. For non-Apple devices, they can pick from quite a number of music services. Can someone please tell me why AAC format files have not been made available to other services such as Yahoo? To me this is the same stupid mistake that Apple made by not allowing other companies to build hardware for their OS and apps. I love my iPod, but I seriously want to get off this platform because I can’t use any service but iTunes. I understand that there is a format war brewing with AAC and WMA, but not allowing companies (is this true?) to offer AAC format is just plain stupid IMO.

Posted by oranges on August 18, 2005 at 5:19 AM (PDT)

17

Since I started the thread, I would just like to add my comments now.  It really is how you listen to music.  To me, great music is something to be cherished and listened to over and over again.  I would have to pay for a subscription the rest of my life if I want to listen to my favorite songs, no way!!!

However if you could guarantee that I will pay $5 a month for the rest of my life, maybe, but that’s not gonna happen.  What if they raise the prices to $50 a month for unlimited, and $20 a month for limited choices, that would be a bummer.

That said, I have friends who love subscription because music to them is just background noise and they want to play everything.  I just can’t imagine anyone NOT wanting to own Mozart’s Magic Flute, or Miles Davis Kind of Blue or Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. 

In the end, I guess the analogy is not Music vs Cable TV, but perhaps more Buy or lease a car.  Do you want to own it or not at the end of the day?

Posted by khyberny on August 18, 2005 at 8:40 AM (PDT)

18

I don’t see this as an either/or situation. I’m always going to buy CDs, I’m probably going to continue to buy particular tracks, say from iTunes that I’m going to like and want to keep, and then for exposure to new music, go with a subscription if it’s cheap enough.

Posted by oranges on August 18, 2005 at 9:00 AM (PDT)

19

Cell phones need to learn to stay on for more than 5 minutes before they because the main venue for listening to podcasts.  I think it’s laughable that cell phones are put up as competition to iPods or any mp3 player for that matter.  In terms of streaming, they’ll suck because cell phone technology still sucks.  As a player, they won’t have enough memory to compete with a full sized iPod.  The only competition they might give is to shuffles.

Posted by Frank Z on August 18, 2005 at 9:27 AM (PDT)

20

On the subscription thing.  I think $5 is the right price point.  I’d pay for that BUT I still like the fact that if I can’t pay for it, I still have a library of songs that I can listen to without having to pay an annuity.  I want to join Yahoo! but I hate that it does the auto-renew.  I want to pay the $60 for a year and convince me to join again on my own by making its service worth the money.

Posted by Frank Z on August 18, 2005 at 9:30 AM (PDT)

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