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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is Cook the Next Ballmer?

Posted by on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 3:52 PM


Apple's stock is $504, down from a high this year of $705.The Motley Fool asks "Is Tim Cook The Next Steve Ballmer?" which is not meant as a complement. Bob Lefsetz, a blogger and music industry veteran, calls Tim Cook "charisma-challenged," and "he starts to speak and credibility goes out the window." He states that Apple is not telling its story as it should given the competitive threats of Samsung and Google.
And there's also Amazon, which successfully forced its way into the long-locked iPhone and iPod.
Amazon has stepped up its competition against iTunes with a version of its MP3 store for Apple’s iPhones and iPod Touch devices.
Long a distant second to Apple in digital music sales, Amazon has been moving aggressively over the last couple of years to attract music fans. It regularly discounts digital versions of hit albums and songs, something that has occasionally wrought some mischief on the Billboard charts. And its Cloud Player and Cloud Drive systems, introduced almost two years ago, let its customers back up their songs and stream them to virtually any device. (Apple, Google and others have their own versions of these so-called “lockers.”)
As to why anyone would buy music from iTunes is a complete mystery to me. Amazon is by far the better deal, and not because of prices but because you can move purchased music from one device to another without encountering this or that imposed barrier. Seriously, I hope Cook is the next Ballmer.


Comments (33) RSS

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schmacky 1
Amazon also offers a higher bit rate. iTunes sucks ass.
Posted by schmacky on January 17, 2013 at 4:18 PM · Report this
fletc3her 2
There aren't any barriers to moving iTunes music to different devices. Not for years.
Posted by fletc3her on January 17, 2013 at 4:21 PM · Report this
pfffter 3
@2 Facts don't matter to Chuck. He just likes to hold forth on topics he obviously doesn't know anything about beyond anecdote and personal preference.
Posted by pfffter on January 17, 2013 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Former Lurker 4
Does Apple now have stack-ranking that forces out good people for the sake of forcing people out?
Posted by Former Lurker on January 17, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
I'll buy from iTunes when it's my only option, which happens on occasion. The rest of the time, I'll happily go elsewhere.
Posted by Chris B on January 17, 2013 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Jesus Christ people.

iTunes has been DRM-free for years. You can thank Apple for knocking down that barrier to distribution. Amazon rode in on their coattails, and the labels let them have DRM-free MP3s in order to foster competition and play the two against one another.

Amazon does not have a higher bit rate. Both iTunes and Amazon now use rate of 256 kbits/second. Amazon's bit rate is variable (VBR) and their format is MP3. iTunes uses AAC, a newer codec. It is conceivable that the better understanding of psychoacoustics developed between MP3 and AAC could give a quality edge to AAC at identical bit rates.

However, iTunes movies, books, and apps ARE protected. I presume your precious Amazon sells you unlocked films and Kindle books?
Posted by Jason Petersen on January 17, 2013 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 7
Charles, I'm not normally one of those people who reaches for the hammer every time you post, and in fact enjoy a lot of your writing. But...

Don't write about the tech industry, just don't. This is embarrassing. Everything you just wrote about Amazon and the iPod is so far away from correct that you might as well be writing science fiction.
Posted by Doctor Memory on January 17, 2013 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 8
@7, i actually stopped buying from itunes because of the locks they put on their files. are you telling me i was crazy. there have been no locks on their music files? this is pure science fiction? if this has changed, it happened recently. but i agree, tech is not my thing.
Posted by Charles Mudede on January 17, 2013 at 4:51 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 9
@6, i just realized that my files are locked because they are old files. i have not downloaded from itunes since amazon opened shop. i immediately switched at that point as i wanted to use a smartphone that wasn't an iphone.

i will promise to keep my posts about tech to a bare minimum.
Posted by Charles Mudede on January 17, 2013 at 4:58 PM · Report this
pfffter 10
@8 It's not recent, and yes, you're crazy.
Posted by pfffter on January 17, 2013 at 4:59 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 11
@8: Apple stopped putting DRM on itunes music files well over five years ago now. It was also never Apple's choice to do so in the first place: it was a condition placed by the music labels who owned the music.

Amazon beat them to market with DRM-free music; Apple followed a few months later when their existing contracts with the labels came up for re-negotiation.
Posted by Doctor Memory on January 17, 2013 at 5:02 PM · Report this
fletc3her 12
I think it's also worth noting that Amazon tracks have always worked on the iPod just fine through synching. They provide a cloud player now so you can access tracks without synching, but Spotify and other "radio" services have been doing that for years.

I try to buy from Bleep or direct from artists when I can, but the choice of whether to buy from Amazon or Apple seems arbitrary. Go with whichever is cheaper or more convenient.
Posted by fletc3her on January 17, 2013 at 5:12 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 13
@11, i actually believed you guys. i just downloaded music from my itunes cloud, tried to play them on my amazon player on my samsung and no go. i think you people only use apple.
Posted by Charles Mudede on January 17, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
I still prefer buying MP3s from Amazon. Every device ever made for playing digital music files supports MP3. Not so for iTunes AAC.
Posted by decidedlyodd on January 17, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
It's not Tonderai's fault. His daddy brought them West before they were ready to evolve.
Posted by Stranger'sWorstNightmare on January 17, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
@13: Let me get this straight: Apple's competitor's music playing app doesn't support the open AAC format?

How curious.

But if you must, use iTunes to convert your compact AAC into an mp3 and enjoy it as needed.
Posted by tiktok on January 17, 2013 at 5:31 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 17
@13: again, seriously, you have no idea what you're talking about. Amazon's player uses MP3. Apple's files are in AAC format. These are both open formats, but they are incompatible. This is like trying to thread a reel-to-reel tape into a cassette tape player and complaining when it doesn't work.

The AAC files can be played on your samsung phone if you add them directly and use the built-in android music player. Just not with the Amazon cloud player.

In my daily life I work with computers from Apple, Dell, IBM, SuperMicro, Sun and occasionally Samsung and Fujitsu. (And not necessarily in that order.) The problem isn't that I'm an Apple partisan, the problem is that you don't know what you're talking about. Which is fine: this shit is complicated. I don't pretend to be able to cogently discuss Marxist politics; you should stop writing about tech issues.
Posted by Doctor Memory on January 17, 2013 at 5:52 PM · Report this
where is the "LIKE" button for Doctor Memory?
Posted by nador on January 17, 2013 at 6:08 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 19
@17, the nature of consumer products is to be simple. i do indeed convert the files from aac to mp3. it was just i was tired of doing this. what's new to me is what @14 pointed out, that amazon player does not support aac (and nor does google player--i use both). all along i thought it did so, and so thought apple was the problem--here, finally, i see my error.
Posted by Charles Mudede on January 17, 2013 at 6:13 PM · Report this
Maybe someday after Tonderai learns to drive, he'll figure out iTunes. Until then, he can sit on the bus and sing rap music a capella with the rest of the homies.
Posted by Stranger'sWorstNightmare on January 17, 2013 at 6:13 PM · Report this
You can set iTunes to import using mp3 format if you want to use other audio devices.
Posted by skagitron on January 17, 2013 at 6:14 PM · Report this
Charles if you like I help you convert your Apple-purchased music to MP3.
Posted by Jack D on January 17, 2013 at 6:15 PM · Report this
You can set iTunes to import music as mp3 format if you want to use other music devices.
Posted by skagitron on January 17, 2013 at 6:17 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 24
@20: in the same way (only much, much, much worse) that Charles shouldn't write off the cuff about tech issues, you need a hobby other than trying to troll slog threads. You are the single most incompetent troll ever. You couldn't troll a police station with the help of all members of NWA living and dead. You couldn't troll a NAMBLA convention with the help of the entire Mickey Mouse club. You couldn't troll a bridge if you lived under it. You suck at this more than anyone else ever. Give up.
Posted by Doctor Memory on January 17, 2013 at 6:21 PM · Report this
@19, I buy most of my music in iTunes and upload it to the Google Player. I've had no issues. It appears that my AAC iTunes files get converted to MP3 when I upload them to Google. You may be having issues uploading your OLD music. If you bought it way back when iTunes had DRM then that music still has DRM and there's no way to get rid of it (besides buying it again). Newer, non-DRM iTunes music works fine with the Google Player though.
Posted by eric59 on January 17, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 26
We are entering a world of computers for pocket calculator prices. Price Angels is the new Dell.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on January 17, 2013 at 6:57 PM · Report this
Charles, yes, I almost exclusively use Apple products. I have a Roku for my TV because I favor the flexibility it gives me over an all-iTunes solution, though AppleTV is adding more vendors (I doubt it will ever support Amazon, though).

I too switched to Amazon's MP3 store as soon as it opened. When Apple dropped the locks, I would buy iTunes if I got gift cards or something, but generally favor Amazon for their prices. The sound quality for either file is good enough.

I agree the point of electronics is to be simple (which is at odds with them being repairable). I did not consider there would be recently made devices capable of playing music which do not support AAC (it's such an old format by now it seems inconceivable not to just support it).

Clarification to some of the above commenters: Neither AAC nor MP3 are "open". They may be standardized, but implementing a decoder typically requires a licensing agreement, no? Perhaps I've answered my own question regarding companies choosing not to support AAC…
Posted by Jason Petersen on January 17, 2013 at 7:13 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 28
@ 24 with that you won my admiration. All of your comments.have been solid.

Posted by Charles Mudede on January 17, 2013 at 7:16 PM · Report this
Westlake, son! 29
In this thread: Apple zealots blame the customer.
Posted by Westlake, son! on January 17, 2013 at 7:58 PM · Report this
When Apple stopped selling DRMed music and upped the bit rate they called it "iTunes Plus." For a time you could pay a small fee to replace your DRMed files with clear files, so you didn't have to repurchase everything. Their answer now is to pay $25 for iTunes Match, if anyone still has old iTunes DRM sitting around. This all went down four years ago, not five.
Posted by senor chris on January 17, 2013 at 9:41 PM · Report this
Charles. Don't listen to the haters. I agree with you 67% of the time.
Posted by Digitocalypse on January 17, 2013 at 10:41 PM · Report this
NotSean 32
Shout out: Rhapsody.
More music - less evil.
Posted by NotSean on January 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 33
@24: What amazes me is how fucking stupid you would have to be to suck so much at trolling. It is like being "bad" at walking.

If you can not even muster enough nonsense to piss off a bunch of Northwest liberals, you really have no imagination.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on January 18, 2013 at 11:06 AM · Report this

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