Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beatles on Itunes, one old dinosaur climbing aboard one soon to be dinosaur,

Last night the TV commentators were all abuzz. The Beatles will finally be on itunes thanks no doubt, to running out of any other coherent idea to boost Beatles holiday sales this year. Yes, you can now have the same reduced quality audio, and the same 5 computer restrictions (unless you pay the "premium") for the entire Beatles catalog, which most of you already own in one form or another.

Why should we care. The Beatles are as ubiquitous as the bible in a Motel Six. It's not like this ushers in a new age of technological wonder, or a significant broadening of the itunes offerings. To my jaundiced eyes, this is just a further acknowledgment of business as usual over at itunes. A flawed model enjoying it's last halcyon days before someone comes along to eat it's lunch. And in this souped up web crazed world, with a new brilliant idea made possible by the latest fastest biggest yet every other second, this will be a short enough interval that even our attention deficit age will still be awake when the whip comes down.

itunes, sure we all got our product on it. Go Van Gogh make its pennies a month, month after month after month. We are out there, supposedly on the tipity tip of the long tail, garnering the very small benefits of someone else's considerable R&D.

Yet from where I am standing, there are galaxy after galaxy Apple/itunes seems to know nothing about. This was brought home for me in hearts when itunes introduced Ping, their recent move into the social networking sphere. By design, but what I see as a conceptual flaw, Ping is limited to music that can be found in the itunes store. While I am sure the graphs and venn diagrams aplenty that justified this business logic make great sense in a short sighted world, perhaps the MBA's might consult someone with more peripheral vision next time. Less than a third of my itunes library is matched in the itunes store, and thats not because I am a big ACDC fan, or any of the other mega platinum itunes hold outs. It's because the itunes model is not broad, it is looking to sell the same 1000 things to the same Billion people, while using smoke and mirrors to pretend to be something grander than the CD section at Best Buy.
Anyone with half an ounce of discernment has to get their music elsewhere, no matter what flavor that music might be.

And apple can only blame itself when Mark Zuckerberg, or who ever come from left field to make itunes the VHS tape of the 21st century. By not actively seeking to be the complete aggregator of all things musical, in a quality format, heading step by step in a declared manner towards the INEVITABLE subscription service we all envisioned several decades ago, they have set themselves a course to extinction. Whether it's a meteorite hit, or a profusion of flowers, itunes has failed to show how they will be able to go the distance when calamity strikes.

Will apple mend it's ways, invest the time and cold hard cash into creating the inclusive affordable model all artists and music lovers can embrace? Not without some fast and fancy foot work, and bringing in some fresh thinkers to their mix.


Bobo Bubalisky
Trouble Maker
Friend to the band

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