Why the iPod Should Play Windows Media Audio | iLounge News


Why the iPod Should Play Windows Media Audio

Like the age-old battle between the Beta format and the VHS format we are at the very beginnings of a digital media battle…. The solution? Apple should avoid the potential of becoming the Beta by having the iPod able to play WMA files.

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WMA files get real! MP3 is already cross platform, and AAC is better quality (potentially).

WMA sucks, and as for the analogy of iPod becoming the “Betamax” I think not, more like the other way round (Except of course Betamax was technically a superior product).



Posted by GuyVer on November 20, 2003 at 10:49 AM (CST)


Am I the only one that doesn’t consider wma a ‘closed’ format ala AAC?  Seriously, both are proprietary and the FUD surrounding this issue is amazing.  If you want an open system, use mp3.  Of course that means no DRM.  But by definition DRM closes the system.

Posted by gilatrout on November 20, 2003 at 11:21 AM (CST)


The iPod can *already* play WMA—it’s part of the basic software support for the PortalPlayer 5002 platform that the iPod is based on.

Apple have simply chosen to disable WMA support - a simple firmware recompile and it’s supported.



“Realtime decoding of MP3, WMA, AAC, and ACELP

Posted by reality on November 20, 2003 at 12:31 PM (CST)


Well, here’s how I see it, Beta never had widespread support, and VHS did, people wanted to be able to record a full football match…

Now the iPod already has widespread support, and no one can honesltly say that there’s some HUGE technical OR useablitly advantage to WMA, so it’s not all the same thinger…

Posted by FnArFy on November 20, 2003 at 12:44 PM (CST)


No! If Apple needs to not make AAC the “digital music’s beta” vs. Apple needs to not make the iPod “digital music’s beta”.

I.E. Apple needs to allow companies to support AAC w/Fair Play, this will grow the popularity of the format and the iPod with it which would be Large compared to the small loss due to others producing AAC compatible products. Apple does not need to support WMA, which will only boost the Windows Media format, and therefor the Windows Media Player, Windows, and all other Microsoft sh*t.

Posted by ennerseed on November 20, 2003 at 1:42 PM (CST)


Why haven’t any of the other music stores out there started using AAC? What made them choose WMA over AAC to begin with? I think there must be some hesitation on apple’s part to allow other stores to sell AAC files because then it would be in direct competion with iTunes. If iTunes is the only store selling AAC then Apple is trying to make everyone with an ipod use their store. I’d love to have other stores adopt the AAC format… but if they don’t… I think apple is missing out by not supporting other file formats.

Posted by digitaltrapper on November 20, 2003 at 2:23 PM (CST)


I think the reason everyone uses WMA is that’s what everyone’s computer can play. (And yes, not everyone, but the 95%+ of people who have Windoz machines)

Posted by bsoplinger on November 20, 2003 at 3:12 PM (CST)


Why bother with the vhs, beta comparison?  we have the perfect analogy already: windows computers and macs.

one offers choice, the other offers quality.
guess which one is winning?

Posted by Orbberius on November 20, 2003 at 6:11 PM (CST)


Why change their philosophy since their current proprietary philosophy has been so successful giving them a whopping 5% market share of the computer market?  It’s obvious that Apple hasn’t learned from their previous mistakes.

Posted by wickerbill on November 20, 2003 at 8:37 PM (CST)


iTunes is a loss leader designed to get people to buy iPods - Econ 101

other services should support AAC (both DRM’d and straight up MP4)

iPods should support Ogg Vorbis, SHN, AIFF, MP3Pro, and Real formats (god help me i hate Real)

iPods should NOT support WMA, but should incorporate an automatic transcoder into iTunes 5

Perspective from which I comment:
Apple SE/30 and Powerbook 5300ce owner with family owning iMac and G3 PB…
Currently an AMD supporter on winblowz…
In awe of Apple’s current design and OS…
Sad at Apple’s premium prices (and i do believe in getting what you pay for). 

Posted by lo on November 20, 2003 at 9:26 PM (CST)


iPod should support it all. Saying it should support everything but WMA is just ridiculous. Stop hating MS so much it clouds your ability to make a reasonable decision. If you say they should support some but not all you are only limiting your own options down the line.

Ultimately I hope to see AAC licensed out to some other vendors. I would hate to not be able to play the files I have purchased from iTunes on other devices down the line. I wouldn’t want to be “locked” in to only Apple devices. That is a CLOSED system, whether Apple is behind it or not.
And don’t give me that re-ripping crap. I rather not lose anymore quality in the process of playing my music where i want to play it.

Posted by SpideyPod on November 21, 2003 at 7:36 AM (CST)


i hate MS but i do use their software (regretably)...but it hasn’t clouded my reasoning. 

WMA is an inferior format AND a closed format unlike the others. 

all of the others (except AAC w/fairplay) are open source. 

i am not limiting my options because i don’t use WMA anyway - nor should anyone else. 

AAC is already open sourced (as MP4). use your head and the internet to figure out how to crack the FairPlay DRM to play it on other devices…

you don’t like the fact that iTunes is closed, buy somewhere else.  then you’re stuck with inferior products and other “closed” systems - you don’t really believe anything associated with MS is “open”...do you?

Posted by lo on November 21, 2003 at 2:40 PM (CST)


“you don’t like the fact that iTunes is closed, buy somewhere else. then you’re stuck with inferior products and other “closed” systems - you don’t really believe anything associated with MS is “open”...do you?”

this is the kind of thinking that gets apple 5% market share in the computer world.

do YOU think people are going to pay hundreds more for a product that limits all sorts of choice in what they can do?  no!  good luck to apple in what they’re trying to do, but it will not happen with such an overpriced product.

Posted by Orbberius on November 21, 2003 at 6:10 PM (CST)



yes i do think people will pay.

iPod sales since its inception VERSUS all other portable, HD-based MP3 players on the market past and present

think about it before you post

Posted by lo on November 21, 2003 at 6:14 PM (CST)


“iPod sales since its inception VERSUS all other portable, HD-based MP3 players on the market past and present”

You really want to compare the iPod’s sales versus other portable digital audio products? Apple are doing better with iPod than with Macs, but not by much.

Let’s talk percentages of unit volume.

Last quarter sales of iPod vs others:


Historical iPod vs others:


Total quantity of iPods vs others
(since DiamondMM’s 1997 creation of market segment)

8 / 92

In fact, by this time in its life cycle Apple][ had around 40% of market, and Macs had around 10%. So it’s about par for the niche course for Apple.

Posted by 5PerCentSolution on November 21, 2003 at 7:20 PM (CST)


since when was having a almost 20% market share a BAD thing?!

I think the point is Ipod vs. Any SINGLE mp3 player

No one expects ipod to have monopolistic market share, it’s a saturated competitive market, with a lot of choices, not an oligopoly like with only two choices (i.e. mac vs. pc)

And the statistics show that obviously the market share is on it’s way up.

Anyways, all of that to say that the above statistics are all supportive of apple and the ipod.  (where’d you find the stats, by the way?)

Posted by geewhiz on November 22, 2003 at 3:41 AM (CST)


Let me see if i can shed some light on the situation from an almost unbiased point of view.

Apple currently has the lead in the market for downloadable music (ie. iTMS) however, there are many other companies such as napster or buymusic.com that are getting in on the business and potentially taking market share from apple.

By adding wma support to the ipod, apple makes the ipod compatible with all of the music services that are offering only wma music. Why limit the ipod to just users who use iTMS?

Apple should be using this as an opportunity to crush the competition and they aren’t capitalizing on that fact.

Those of you who actually believe that because apple as the commanding lead in the market that they should deny support for wma is absurd. Take a look at the sony playstation from the early 90s. They were brand new in a market that nintendo dominated and look what happened?

I think this hatred for microsoft will hurt apple in the long run. Yes, they’ll make less money per ipod now but they will make more in the long run.

Posted by eternal on November 22, 2003 at 3:54 PM (CST)


The thing is, WMA is going to be the default when Microsoft puts a music store on the desktop.


You can’t even PRETEND that Apple can compete in that arena.  If Microsoft wanted to crush Apple’s very soul, they can, because they’re that damn big and they own the desktop.


If Apple opened up the iPod to WMA files, then the Caddilac of MP3 players would remain what it is: the best, most elegant player on the market.

If they do NOT open it up…they’ll simply be the most elegant.  Bottom line is, if every music store online is selling WMA files, as the trend seems to be, then Apple becomes the odd man out.

The Betamax of music players, in otherwords.  Superior?  Yes.  Dead?  Well, you go into Best Buy and try to buy a Betamax player.  ;)

Posted by stark23x on November 22, 2003 at 4:23 PM (CST)


Excuse me but is the writer serious betamax, the battle has already been won and it’s called mp3 or hasn’t he looked at filesharing software recently. Despite all the hype about other formats mp3 is king despte what the napsters etc would have us believe. 

Despite having a windoze machine ( and lots of macs) i do not listen to my music in wma, why the hell would I as Mp3 is what my stand alone players use as well as my iPod. If they wnat me to buy there music it has to be available in Mp3 but aac will do niceley thank you. WMA is more restrictivr than AAC.

Posted by mac_daddy on November 23, 2003 at 4:00 PM (CST)


A friend just got an Ipod but has imported his cd collection to Windows Media Player. Is there are practical conversion available?

Posted by James Dawson on December 5, 2003 at 6:32 PM (CST)

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