I have spent a great deal of time contemplating and comparing the benefits and drawbacks of the iTunes and MSN Music online services. Each let you buy a song or entire CD and play it back on a specific few devices.
Truth be told, MSN Music has the advantage there, even if their selection of music is trivial as compared to the others. I can play back the music I purchase and download from MSN Music on my wife's Pocket PC, my Smartphone, or either of our computers. But therein lies the rub. I have 2 computers - a laptop and a desktop. She just has a laptop. That's five devices. And, unfortunately, that's it. Period. This approach from MSN Music, to allow only five devices, seems like a Stone Age approach toward online music purchasing.
Think about it. We live in a time where people walk around with 2 or 3 devices strapped to their belt or in their pockets. What if I happen to be using MY Pocket PC instead of my Smartphone because I'm on a three-city tour in the US doing presentations for INETA, I need the GPS functionality as I drive, and I want to play my music on THAT device? Well sorry - that's six. And that's too bad for me.
The truth is, we bought the songs. My wife and I. We should have the right to play them on any device we own, as many times as we'd like. Period. I realize most households are not as technically proficient as ours is, but that makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. We bought the songs. The fact that no one seems to be able to come up with a realistic way control piracy in 2005 shouldn't be my problem.
I know I've blogged about this previously, but I don't feel like I did the subject justice.
Apple clearly has better hardware for storing and playing music and photos, especially with the introduction of the Nano. Hell, I've been a pro-Microsoft guy for over 15 years and I have to admit that no device even comes close to it. But the trade-off here is the fact that I don't wish to carry another device with me in addition to my Smartphone. My Smartphone has 512MB of flash memory in it. Enough to hold quite a bit of music. Why SHOULD I be expected to carry another device? Simply because I can't buy a song from iTunes and play it on my Smartphone because of some stupid rights management architecture?
Shouldn't I be able to buy a song from ANY vendor and play it on ANY device? Even if I have to put a password in I'm happy to do that. I've never understood why it's so important to Microsoft to proliferate the WMA format. MP3 is pretty great. In fact, I rip all my CDs as MP3s, not WMAs because virtually every portable device can play MP3 files. What's the point of pushing forward on the WMA front? Is there some kind of financial reward? If so, what kind of financial reward could possibly show up as a blip on Microsoft's radar in the light of tens of billions of dollars in profit each and every year?
This is just very frustrating to me. This whole thing seems childish. It seems like corporate America trying to duke it out for selfish reasons. And none of these reasons relate to the customer. Here's what I feel the consumers' wish is, and please - I welcome any corrections and/or feedback on this.
We want to be able to buy music online and listen to it on whatever devices we have in our households, in perfect digital quality, as many times as we want, forever. Surely SOMEONE in the world must be smart enough to make this happen.
Worried about space? We live in a world where a gigabyte of space in the "pocket" device world can go for as low as two hardcover books at Amazon.com. The concept of who can get a song down to 2.1 megabytes as opposed to 2.2 megabytes is, as I've been stating throughout this rant, childish and pathetic.
End of rant.