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Apple's Move May Make AAC Music Industry Standard

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the razors-and-razorblades dept.

Music 428

stivi writes "BusinessWeek has up an article about a war: a standards war in the online music business. Apple's recent deal with EMI to sell DRM-free songs from the publisher's catalog on iTunes may clinch the iPod's AAC format as the industry standard. The article talks about possible reasons why AAC might marginalize WMA, as well as deals with some of the implications of drm-free aac-standardized industry. 'Online music stores, like Napster, Yahoo Music, URGE, and all the others that sell WMA songs will be forced to consider jumping into the DRM-free AAC camp, and thus become iPod compatible, and in so doing become competitors of iTunes. Apple will be fine with this, because in its range of priorities, anything that sells more iPods can only be a good thing. With time, practically all music stores will be selling iPod-compatible songs. This will be considered a Richter 10 event at Microsoft.'"

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428 comments

MP3 (5, Interesting)

hokiejimbo (751496) | about 7 years ago | (#18625617)

What exactly makes this different than .mp3? Other online music stores have had the option to sell unrestricted .mp3 files for plenty of time and still haven't decided to do that. Yes, AAC is arguably better than MP3, but both are quite "iPod compatible".

Re:MP3 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625711)

No, thats incorrect. There are no online stores that have been able to sell DRM-free MP3's, at least not if they are selling music from the larger labels.

Re:MP3 (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 7 years ago | (#18625841)

> There are no online stores that have been able to sell DRM-free MP3's, at least not if they are
> selling music from the larger labels.

Which is exactly the only thing new here, but some asshat wanted to spin it pro Apple. If EMI is willing to A) give up DRM and B) allow non-Apple retailers in the deal why would they mandate AAC? No, when Yahoo, Walmart, etc enter the DRM Free game they will be selling whatever format(s) customers demand since they have no motive to help Apple lockup the hardware market.

Of course if EMI and the other labels only allow Apple to sell without DRM then yea, Apple wins.

Re:MP3 (5, Insightful)

e4g4 (533831) | about 7 years ago | (#18626295)

they have no motive to help Apple lockup the hardware market.
How does mandating an open format help apple lockup the hardware market? It's a more or less trivial process for DAP manufactures to add AAC decoding capability, and substantially cheaper than including WMA decoders, I would imagine. Not that a record company would necessarily mandate format, I'm just saying that any mandate of a AAC format would only benefit Apple in the very short term, as other manufacturers catch up.

Re:MP3 (4, Insightful)

soft_guy (534437) | about 7 years ago | (#18626395)

Hell, it isn't even pro-Apple. Apple doesn't own AAC. Apple doesn't own MP3.

No, it is anti-Microsoft because as long as the format isn't Window Media, then who cares?

The only reason why AAC is better than MP3 is because it is actually a better format and also I think MP3 has some patent issues.

Microsoft would like their format to become dominate, but hopefully that will not happen because an open format like AAC is better for everyone.

Re:MP3 (4, Informative)

i_should_be_working (720372) | about 7 years ago | (#18625731)

Exactly. In addition, if one reads EMI's announcement about them selling DRM-free music, it's clear that it's neither AAC nor iTunes exclusive. Other music stores will be selling EMI's songs in mp3 format soon, and nothing will have changed with respect to the popularity of mp3 vs AAC.

Re:MP3 (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 7 years ago | (#18626095)

In addition, if one reads EMI's announcement about them selling DRM-free music, it's clear that it's neither AAC nor iTunes exclusive. Other music stores will be selling EMI's songs in mp3 format soon, and nothing will have changed with respect to the popularity of mp3 vs AAC.

I disagree. This is likely to change the relative popularity of MP3 and AAC. There are several reasons for this. First, the iTunes store is currently the most popular of the online music services and likely will be the first one taking advantage of this offer. As a result, a lot of MP3 manufacturers are going to be looking to add AAC support to their player to capitalize upon Apple's work and to make transition easy for existing iPod users. This will expand the potential market for AAC files from iPods and Zune, to almost all portable players. With that change, a lot more music services will consider using the AAC format either instead of or in addition to MP3.

Second, right now almost all commercial services require DRM. That means such a service must choose to either use WMA, RealMedia, or roll their own solution. Support for Real is nonexistent among hardware vendors, so they target WMA as the easiest solution. Very few commercial services offer MP3. So how does this event change things? All those WMA offerings are now going to be looking for format for non-DRM'd files that targets the iPod. That rules out WMA. So they are probably going to be choosing AAC or MP3 or both. MP3 is probably a little cheaper for licensing and has wider support, but AAC allows for smaller files for the same level of audio quality, saving bandwidth costs and speeding up downloads. Further, record companies will have already converted masters to sampled AAC for Apple, possibly making that a preference from them.

I don't see that MP3 or AAC will immediately dominate for DRM free music sales, but I bet Apple is not the only major store selling AAC downloads by then end of 2008.

Re:MP3 (1)

OECD (639690) | about 7 years ago | (#18626113)

Other music stores will be selling EMI's songs in mp3 format soon...

Which ones? AFAIK, iTunes is the only one selling the songs outright (vs. subscription services.)

Re:MP3 (0, Offtopic)

bhodikhan (894485) | about 7 years ago | (#18625755)

Oh my. Microsoft won't take it well at all. Do you think with all the chairs Steve Ballmer has broken he should consider marketing his own chair brand?

Re:MP3 (-1, Troll)

JensenDied (1009293) | about 7 years ago | (#18626175)

MP3 is not fully compatible with the iPod

Audio formats supported: MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR
http://www.apple.com/ipod/specs.html [apple.com]

This is lacking support for the mp3 Constant Bitrate format Wikipedia/MP3 [wikipedia.org] Wikipedia/Constant_bitrate [wikipedia.org]

Although the VBR format is arguably better than the CBR format please don't try and incorrectly blanket all aspects of a format.

Re:MP3 (3, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 7 years ago | (#18626393)

Did you not read what you JUST quoted? It supports MP3's, from 16 to 320Kbps (this is constant bitrate), AS WELL AS MP3 VBR.

I was there was a -1 Incorrect mod.

Re:MP3 (1)

xwinter (632755) | about 7 years ago | (#18626325)

In addition, why can't Microsoft just sell wma files without DRM, thus muddying up the digital music waters, as they have a habit of doing in markets they inhabit?

aac is not in EVERY hardware player (5, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 years ago | (#18625639)

and so it will never capture the market share that mp3 based hardware (chip) players have.

I have so many mp3-only players - why on earth would I convert to a diff format when mp3 meets ALL my needs?

now, if all players were firmware upgradable, fine. but the fact is, most are chip based and if there is no
AAC support in the chip, you are SOL.

AAC is a nice idea, but its not 'everywhere'. mp3 IS everywhere. that's all that matters, in the end.

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (4, Interesting)

e4g4 (533831) | about 7 years ago | (#18625771)

AAC isn't everywhere yet, I'll agree. However, if Apple actually moves it's entire catalog to unprotected AAC files, it seems to me quite reasonable that the vast majority of players released from that point forward will support AAC, considering Apple's dominance in the online music sales market. If one sells music player hardware, wouldn't you want it to support the most popular format (for sale) on the market? Especially considering AAC doesn't require royalty payments.

Mod Parent UP (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | about 7 years ago | (#18626361)

AAC isn't everywhere yet, I'll agree. However, if Apple actually moves it's entire catalog to unprotected AAC files, it seems to me quite reasonable that the vast majority of players released from that point forward will support AAC, considering Apple's dominance in the online music sales market.

Exactly! Apple owns the online music market and if it starts selling music without DRM in AAC format than any portable music player manufacturer with a brain will quickly add support for AAC's to give themselves a shot at increasing their own market share.

If Steve Jobs really has deals with other labels in the works as he indicated in the Apple press release announcing the EMI deal (in which he's quoted as saying he expects over half of the music on iTunes to be available without DRM by the end of this year) then hardware manufacturers would be crazy not to support AAC.

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (2, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | about 7 years ago | (#18625977)

You're right, but it's perception that makes the format, and now everyone perceives mp3 as the format that's everywhere. The point of this article is to be propaganda to make people think AAC is more pervasive than it is.

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (2, Interesting)

IvanTheNotSoBad (977004) | about 7 years ago | (#18626003)

You're right about the chip support, and about the state of affairs now, but the article refers to what may happen. The fact is, Apple is making an extremely good argument for adopting AAC (DRM free music). This is A BIG DEAL!

I personally never even thought of purchasing music from iTunes until the deal with EMI was announced. Now, I'm looking forward to it. This is what a lot of people have asked for, and now we have started on the road to get there.

Also worth mentioning:
  • AAC achieves much higher sound quality than mp3 at the same bitrate.
  • AAC does not require loyalty payments, MP3 does
  • AAC supports 48 channels...mp3 supports a 6 (5.1 at MPG2)
This is a short list. Check out the full list of features here [wikipedia.org]

BTW, I'm not an apple fanboy. My entire music collection is now in MP3 and I'm not looking forward to re-ripping my music.

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | about 7 years ago | (#18626339)

I'm sure by "much higher sound quality than mp3" you meant "hardly discernible from mp3." You can only tell AAC from MP3 at, say, 160kbps with repeated critical listening on excellent equipment in a prepared setting. Most people can't tell the difference at all.

You're not smelling the market opportunity! (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 7 years ago | (#18626039)

Look, people had LPs, and willingly went to 8 track. People had 8 track and willingly went to cassette. People had cassette and willingly went to CDs. People had CDs and willingly went to iPod/m3-players. It's not that great a stretch to see people go to AAC or some other format that has better sound quality at a given bitrate, especially if it ushers in a DRM-less age at the same time. The hardware manufacturers such as Apple/Creative/etc will *certainly* not have a problem with this -- they'll make it as easy as possible to upgrade, and will encourage people to do so in whatever way they can - because they want to sell more hardware.

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (5, Insightful)

adisakp (705706) | about 7 years ago | (#18626045)

True... but iPods do currently make up something like 75%-80% of the market all by themselves. Thus AAC is one of the predominant portable digital music player formats even if relatively few other players support AAC.

Not to mention quite a few players support AAC without really going out of their way to bullet point it as a feature.... for example Zune players.

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626343)

>>True... but iPods do currently make up something like 75%-80% of the market all by themselves.

Depends how you split the market. Other sources state 14% of the market [litux.org] for iPods. Think how many cheap-and-cheerfull mp3 players are sold on ebay each day. You can bet they aren't included in any of these figures.

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (5, Insightful)

BKX (5066) | about 7 years ago | (#18626099)

You're forgetting two things.

First, mp3s cost the online music stores money per song download, whereas AAC does not.

Second, most new players support AAC out of box. Nobody cares about your Rio.

Third, since 80% of mp3 players out there today are iPods (which all support AAC), and most of the rest either support AAC and can be firmware upgraded to support it. Why would the music stores give a crap about supporting the less than 10% of music players that don't do AAC?

Forth, you're not thinking about this from the music stores' points of view. To them, selling DRM'd music costs a certain DRM'd-format-royalty on a per song downloaded basis. Right now, they mostly pay that royalty to Microsoft since they all use WMV, since Microsoft is the only company licensing a DRM'd format. Selling non-DRM'd music makes them free to choose among non-DRM'd formats, and there are a shit ton of them:
WMV: costs money per song, and is only supported by a small number of clients.
MP3: costs money per song as well but is supported by nearly 100% of clients.
AAC: is free and is supported by 90% of current clients and soon to be 100% of future clients. (Even the Zune supports non-DRM'd AAC, and that's saying something.)
Other formats: no format has wide enough support and small enough bandwidth requirements to even be considered.

Which format would you choose?

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (1)

ghoti (60903) | about 7 years ago | (#18626403)

That sums up the case for AAC really well. The only thing I would like to add is that AAC was developed to use as little power as possible when decoding, so it also gives you better battery life. In the long run, we might see players ditch MP3 completely and only support AAC - no more licensing fees, and it runs longer, too.

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (1)

Llywelyn (531070) | about 7 years ago | (#18626181)

What percentage of the players currently in use support AAC?

Not the ones in you and your friends personal collections, what percentage of them in the market?

Re:aac is not in EVERY hardware player (1)

soft_guy (534437) | about 7 years ago | (#18626455)

AAC is in a huge percentage of players. The very small number of players that don't support AAC don't make any difference at all.

Why not MP3? (3, Insightful)

snowwrestler (896305) | about 7 years ago | (#18625665)

Every digital music device can play it, and it's already a more well-known and common standard than AAC.

I know AAC is technically superior to MP3, but so was Betamax. Popularity beats technology a lot of the time, especially when the technical advantage is not exactly glaringly obvious.

Either way WMA is going down thought. As it should.

Re:Why not MP3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625889)

Popularity beats technology a lot of the time, especially when the technical advantage is not exactly glaringly obvious.
Hence why you don't see OGG or FLAC hitting the majority of music/media players.

Re:Why not MP3? (4, Interesting)

Llywelyn (531070) | about 7 years ago | (#18625971)

First, MP3 is embroiled in multiple licensing and patent issues that make it legally more murky than AAC. Second, as you point out, AAC is superior technically to mp3 while still being an open standard. It has a standardized tagging system, is better at lower bitrates, more channels, etc. All of which make it significantly more desirable than mp3 from the standpoint of a content provider, as well as from our standpoint as consumers.

Oh, and stop using betamax as a comparison point. Please, just stop it. Betamax lost the format war more because of bad marketing, licensing, and format confusion than because of lockin. Even to the degree that it could be path dependency, such is not a relevant comparison point here since AAC is already a widely adopted standard (not as widely as mp3, I'll grant, but I'll ask one simple question: what percentage of players in the hands of consumers can play AAC? Considering that it includes the iPod, the Zune, the PSP, and a great many phones its probably quite high).

Re:Why not MP3? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 years ago | (#18626015)

I thought one of the big reasons that Betamax lost was because, in its first iteration, the tapes were not able to hold an entire 2-hour movie, and studios and rental stores didn't really like the idea of every movie requiring two tapes.

Re:Why not MP3? (5, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | about 7 years ago | (#18626213)

Believe it or not, MP3 actually has more patent issues than AAC at this point. Supposedly, if you run an online store, you have to pay royalties on every song sold to MP3-related patent holders. AFAIK, AACs don't require royalties to be paid per-song. There are also outstanding lawsuits regarding MP3.

So even though it may make sense to you, as a consumer, to stick with mp3, it may not make sense to a business. So if you imagine that MP3 is disqualified, what else is likely to become the defacto standard for online music stores? To answer that, you might want to ask yourself, "Besides MP3, what other formats play on the most popular portable music player?"

Yeah, that pretty much means AAC. It's not that I wouldn't like it to be something that's completely unencumbered by patents, but either way, it's better than dealing with Windows Media files.

Re:Why not MP3? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626317)

There was much more porn on VHS than Betamax, that's why VHS won. There's not much porn on MP3, so no real reason to choose it over AAC.

check the boxes (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#18625671)

Apple's Move May Make AAC Music Industry Standard

So selling DRM-free AAC files will dethrone DRM-free MP3 files as the industry standard?

How, exactly?

Re:check the boxes (1)

kjart (941720) | about 7 years ago | (#18625825)

So selling DRM-free AAC files will dethrone DRM-free MP3 files as the industry standard?

Exactly. The only thing this might "force" other stores to do is sell DRM-free music (which is a good thing). I don't really think there is much else you can assume about this change, except for an increase of iTunes sales for Apple (though that might not even happen).

Re:check the boxes (4, Insightful)

Thrudheim (910314) | about 7 years ago | (#18626127)

No, the original article is talking about winning a standards war with Microsoft. If all the music stores turn to selling AAC, or even MP3 and AAC, Microsoft's effort to make WMA the standard media format will have failed. That's the point.

Don't get me wrong. I think the author takes the point too far when he leaps to conclusions of AAC dominance, but I do think that he may have a point about Microsoft. The interesting thing to me is that would be a victory *against* Microsoft but not one *for* any other company in particular. Apple uses AAC, but AAC is open to anybody despite what a lot of people think. For Apple, it is a victory in that they do not have to be beholden to Microsoft in this area. The same is true for nearly every other company but Microsoft.

Re:check the boxes (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#18626411)

No, the original article is talking about winning a standards war with Microsoft.

      Just wait - Microsoft will change the "standard" and use their monopoly position to ram it down everyone's throat. Actually if the music "industry" settles on one "standard" it will just give Microsoft a clear target to aim at. They've done with everything else, why should they change their business practices now?

Re:check the boxes (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 7 years ago | (#18626417)

The interesting thing to me is that would be a victory *against* Microsoft but not one *for* any other company in particular.

It's a victory *for* everyone who isn't Microsoft, particularly for consumers. This is how standards should work-- not favor anyone in particular, benefit people in general.

Vorbis? FLAC? (3, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | about 7 years ago | (#18625681)

There are plenty of free codecs out there that do a fine job. Why would a music store gravitate towards a non-free codec?

Re:Vorbis? FLAC? (4, Insightful)

Sandor at the Zoo (98013) | about 7 years ago | (#18625923)

So that people could play the music on an iPod, the #1 DAP on the market? Yeah, that might be a reason.

Re:Vorbis? FLAC? (5, Funny)

mattkime (8466) | about 7 years ago | (#18626057)

>>the #1 DAP on the market?

Whats a DAP? Is it like an iPod?

Re:Vorbis? FLAC? (2, Funny)

drachenstern (160456) | about 7 years ago | (#18626457)

DAP is a great sealant. In fact, many plumbers and others in the small repair business swear by it. I'd say it's probably number 1 amongst those who know of it. Here's two URLs for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAP [wikipedia.org]

http://www.dap.com/ [dap.com]

As a matter of fact, Tim Allen's standup routine (amongst others, I'm sure) references a great bit about DAP and filling the crack revealed when a plumber bends over, but I'll omit that here.

cheers

----
To the mods: Ignore this post

Re:Vorbis? FLAC? (2, Insightful)

Movi (1005625) | about 7 years ago | (#18626107)

#1 Because its backed by the largest Online Music Store #2 Its backed by the MPEG working group (and its a subset of MPEG-4) #3 If you don't know why #3 is important try to remember why MP3 is called MP3, and where did it (partially) come from All in all it always seems that MPEG-group made formats always get the prime. So yeah, im willing to believe that AAC will superseed MP3. Besides, ive been using it for about 1 year now (yes, i re-ripped my music), and whilst i had to have MP3s at about 192kbs VBR, i get the same with 128-160kb, thus i can carry more music with me! Yay!

Re:Vorbis? FLAC? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626193)

aac is an open standard. wma is not free, mp3 is not free.

Re:Vorbis? FLAC? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#18626345)

Why would a music store gravitate towards a non-free codec?

      Oh the usual reasons: lies, bullshit, hype. In short - "marketing".

Apple is just a MSFT wannabe? (-1, Flamebait)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 years ago | (#18625699)

I really dont care which format becomes the defacto standard. As long as the standard is open. Multiple vendors should be able make hardware and software based on that standard without having to pay a royalty or license fee to anyone. And all these vendors should compete on a level playing field. If AAC format is encumbered with bias that benefits iPod or Apple over the competitors, then it is no better than the situation where Microsoft controls the market share. The key is Open standards. Not open software/hardware. not Free software/hardware. They are all separate issues. Fundamental idea is true interoperability.

Re:Apple is just a MSFT wannabe? (1)

kjart (941720) | about 7 years ago | (#18625909)

f AAC format is encumbered with bias that benefits iPod or Apple over the competitors, then it is no better than the situation where Microsoft controls the market share.

This seems to be one of the key points that the author relies on - that AAC somehow gives the advantage to Apple. I really don't understand how this is the case. This may drive iTunes sales, but Apple is more concerned with iPod sales. Since other players will be able to play music purchased on iTunes (I believe the Zune, god forbid, plays AAC), this could in theory hurt iPod sales (though that seems a bit remote).

Re:Apple is just a MSFT wannabe? (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 7 years ago | (#18626153)

This may drive iTunes sales

I don't see why. Part of what drives iTunes sales is that it's the only online store that can supply music to your iPod (except those that sell MP3s already). Therefore, if everyone starts selling DRM-free AACs, it's unlikely to drive more business to iTunes. Also, it means that pretty much all new MP3 players will support AAC (if it's really so common-place), and therefore it won't necessarily boost iPod sales.

In the end, this wouldn't help Apple except by reputation (by having bet on the winning horse). Apple still has to make sure they're selling the best portable device in order to keep selling them. There isn't anything shady about it.

Re:Apple is just a MSFT wannabe? (1)

RealSurreal (620564) | about 7 years ago | (#18625941)

So you're opposed to MP3 too?

Ogg is all well and good for ripping your own collection but if virtually no-one is selling music in that format it's irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion.

What? (1)

LordPhantom (763327) | about 7 years ago | (#18625733)

Ok, tell me why they wouldn't simply use low-compression .mp3, or the often "underlooked (and therefore lamented)" .ogg format? The only news here is that non-drm files are being offered through I-Tunes, and that it might harm DRM-WMAs, which is a Good Thing (tm) for consumers.

oh well... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625751)

Who really uses .wma for anything anymore?

Re:oh well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626289)

Who really uses .wma for anything anymore?

Certainly not me, I converted everything years ago. All files I want to keep are now MP3 and they server me well. Oh, occasionally I get a WMA, and convert it if I plan on keeping it. It is also part of why I am not upgrading to Vista. I have heard it may modify MP3 files. Until I see a DRM statement from Microsoft on MP3 files that says they will leave them untouched, Hasta La Vista baby.

How many chairs is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625753)

How many chairs would Balmer have to throw for that R10?

First post?

I have two mp3 players (1)

night_flyer (453866) | about 7 years ago | (#18625757)

neither one play AAC... how will this become the standard?

Re:I have two mp3 players (1)

e4g4 (533831) | about 7 years ago | (#18626111)

Because the next one you buy very likely will, for the same reason that many, many players currently support WMA. DAP manufacturers have been trying to get Apple to license fairplay to them for quite some time, simply so they can produce a player that is compatible with the worlds most popular online music store. Once (if?) Apple begins selling it's entire catalog drm free, these companies won't need Apple's permission to produce an iTMS compatible DAP.

Re:I have two mp3 players (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626199)

Because the minority you inhabit is tiny and ever-shrinking. Still cradling your eight-track tapes?

Re:I have two mp3 players (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626241)

companies that license and use the mp3 format are going to be sued due to patent issues, making mp3 compatibility a liability. and also if no stores sell unprotected mp3's at high bit rates to compete against the high bit rate unprotected aac's.

Send a message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625765)

I hope everyone that was complaining about DRM will now got out and use iTunes and the new non-DRM format and make it a huge success. If this "surge" works, then DRM will die everywhere. If sales do not increase dramatically, then DRM will return and dominate.

Re:Send a message (1)

east coast (590680) | about 7 years ago | (#18625963)

I hope everyone that was complaining about DRM will now got out and use iTunes and the new non-DRM format and make it a huge success.

Why use iTunes? If the new format is truely DRM-free we can just use eMule instead.

Seriously, do you think the people who were unwilling to buy CDs and convert them to MP3 and thus started to pirate music instead are really going to goto iTunes?

Do you really think that the people who shouted "8 USD an album" are now going to go running to iTunes since they've found a free music outlet? Please.

The vast majority of people who are "boycotting" iTunes are "boycotting" the music industry by making the music industries "inflated prices" as the reason that pirating music is legitimate.

Simply put: it's not going to happen. And this isn't even taking into consideration Apples higher price for the DRM-free music. Sure, you can say it's a better quality format/bit rate but do you think that's going to phase the guys who've been downloading 128-bit MP3s from the net like there is no tomorrow?

If DRM was really the concern all along emusic.com would be an industry giant today.

Re:Send a message (4, Insightful)

RealSurreal (620564) | about 7 years ago | (#18626119)

If DRM was really the concern all along emusic.com would be an industry giant today

There's the small matter of having any music that 95% of people want to buy too.

Re:Send a message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626135)

MSFT won't be liking this idea, and will be removing DRM from their ZUNE wares in hopes that somebody/anybody will go there.

Re:Send a message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626221)

Agreed. We tasted the free music revolution, and we liked it. Thanks to Napster, a critical mass of the population has experienced the free flow of music and now feel that musicians should make their living through performances and merchandise. After tasting the cake, we don't want hardtack any more.

Re:Send a message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626291)

People are put off buying digital music because of the restrictions; remove those and everyone will enjoy digital music like they enjoy CDs.
Until DRM is removed, the digital music industry will stay an interesting side line. If the current digital music industry disappeared overnight, hardly anyone would notice. You'll find that most people use iPods with their own ripped CDs because DRM is just so much hassle and hence all the negative coverage.

bi7cH (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625793)

Of *BSD asswipes are looking very fellow travellers? variations on the the goodwill hobbyist dilettante indecision and BSD machines start a holy war distributions 'doing something' Usenet is roughly Minutes. At home, A previously 7iled countersuit, codebase became Are you GAY hand...don't poor priorities, are inherently has steadily a sad world. At Contaminated while JOIN THE GNAA!! Significantly knows that ever distributions and as BSD sinks GNAA on slashdot, Need to scream that into a sling unless Need your help! United States. never heeded Taken over by BSDI lubrication. You keep, and I won't members' creative Minutes. If that. be any fucking gloves, condoms OF AMERICA) today, corpse turned over

Reasons Why ACC Will Win (4, Insightful)

Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) | about 7 years ago | (#18625821)

  1. It doesn't suck.
  2. It sounds better per data byte than MP3 or WMA.
  3. It's cross-platform (or at least (minus Fairplay) more cross-platform that WMA).
  4. No Microsoft. Apple may not be a company of saints, but they're at least an order of magnitude less evil than Microsoft.
  5. And speaking of which, AAC will win because Microsoft knifed their "Plays for Sure" partners in the back with Zune. ("Hey lets piss over major consumer electronics manufacturers to bring out a DOA product that loses us money!")
Crow T. Trollbot

Anything but MP3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18625835)

It would be a shame if we standardized on the inferior MP3 format. WMA and AAC are both much more advanced than MP3 and they both sound a lot better. I personally hope we switch to AAC.

What happened to OGG (1)

robgig1088 (1043362) | about 7 years ago | (#18625843)

I'm still waiting for the OGG players to come out (though i fear i may be waiting forever =\)

Re:What happened to OGG (4, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 years ago | (#18626077)

You haven't been looking hard enough. iRiver has been making OGG-compatible players for years (no, they don't require reflashing with RockBox for this).

I'm listening to Oggs on my H320 with factory firmware as I type this.

Unfortunately, their newest players don't do Ogg any more. I recommend that you get another good player, the Cowon iAudio X5 or X5L. It has 30GB and plays Oggs.

Re:What happened to OGG (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626357)

The Samsung YP-U2 (1GB and 2GB models) supports Ogg Vorbis, and you can buy it at BestBuy. There are also various iRiver and iAudio players that support Ogg Vorbis.

Re:What happened to OGG (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | about 7 years ago | (#18626391)

When you produce a product without any eager customers, your product dies. Nobody (where "somebody" is defined as "a publisher of audio content") was asking for OGG, so why is anybody surprised that it didn't catch on?

Perfect Timing (5, Interesting)

ObligatoryUserName (126027) | about 7 years ago | (#18625901)

Lucent's recent assertion to MP3 patent rights ( http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/technology/23pat ent.html?ex=1329973200&en=6a3c7d2b220acec5&ei=5124 &partner=digg&exprod=digg [nytimes.com] ) combined with this move by Apple and EMI probably have doomed MP3 to an also-ran status.

If you're not familiar, everyone who licensed the MP3 patents is now being threatened with a lawsuit by Alcatel-Lucent because they co-own the patent rights, but weren't party to all the licensing that was going on before.

One word... (1)

unts (754160) | about 7 years ago | (#18625911)

Transcode

And now some more words: Yes, it'll dick all over the audio quality, but the reality of it is most people don't care about high fidelity audio. Those that do would rather now download losslessly encoded audio anyway.

My point is it doesn't matter if AAC becomes the de-facto standard, because transcoding it isn't that much of a chore if you need to put said files onto an incompatible player.

DRM was the real barrier, not the file format.

Re:One word... (1)

unts (754160) | about 7 years ago | (#18625945)

And of course that should have said "rather not"... only three whole keyspaces out.

Re: Player Investments (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 7 years ago | (#18625997)

Good, someone started this thread.

I'm classically in the middle of the market that doesn't care about quality for 75% of my collection. You're right that with the DRM stripped, it won't be long before we should be able to just convert an entire folder's worth of AAC into mp3 that legacy mp3 players can use. I made quite a study of Ultra Low End 3rd party players, one as cheap as $10! Plus, my watch doesn't play AAC files.

Two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626309)

Geneva Conventions.
.
.
.
.
Transcoding is a crime against humanity (at least those of us who have working ears). Why do you hate music so much? If you transcode, the terrists have won.

This is only a good thing.... (1)

8127972 (73495) | about 7 years ago | (#18625959)

... If all music players play AAC which not all do. Those "el-chepo" ones from your local flea market don't. Neither do the ones from Cowon, Creative, Philips, Sandisk (everything but the e200s), or Toshiba. If you have one of those, then this announcement means nothing to you. But if you're player is made by Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Sony, or Sandisk (just the e200s), then you're safe because these players will let the sounds of your favorite artists issue forth from their AAC-encoded files.

Until they all do, this isn't the "eureka" moment that people think it is.

Re:This is only a good thing.... (1)

badasscat (563442) | about 7 years ago | (#18626359)

Until they all do, this isn't the "eureka" moment that people think it is.

Well, it is, because EMI announced that their catalog is available to all retailers in whatever format they want it. iTunes just gets it first.

Anyone who doesn't think MS won't be offering non-DRM .wma files through the Zune store is mistaken. Ditto for Napster and Yahoo and whoever else is selling music these days (I still buy CD's, so I confess I don't even really know the full list). No doubt you'll find EMI's catalog in a variety of different formats online, and if .mp3 is really what people want, then whoever is selling .mp3 is the store that's going to do the most business. The market will ultimately decide, though - what this has done is now detach the store from the player.

That's what this BW article is missing. He's thinking that where iTunes goes, so go consumers. But people only shop at iTunes because they have iPods and they think they have to. Maybe that'll continue. But there are definitely people (like myself) who own iPods but never shop at iTunes and don't own anything but CD's ripped to mp3. So no doubt there will be a lot of iPod owners shopping elsewhere, and maybe even some switchers from iTunes to other stores. The end result is just as likely to be lower sales for iTunes and higher sales for everybody else as the reverse.

But yes, it is a "eureka!" moment, the removal of DRM. It's also almost overnight seemed to make the other three labels' catalogs basically irrelevant to internet sales. EMI has plenty of good music; why would I waste my money on a DRM'd track from another label? (I'm saying this as if I was a consumer that actually bought digital download tracks, but you get my point.)

May not make much difference (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 7 years ago | (#18626043)

The OEMs who make generic MP3/WMA players are not likely to pick up a new chip to decode AAC files unless there is high demand for it, because it will noticably affect cost. Also, most people I know, unless they are buying from iTunes or a WMA music store, rip their music into MP3 format because its the lowest common denominator. Any MP3 player, be it an iPod or some no-name USB stick for $15 from a drugstore, understands the MP3 format. With disk space being relatively cheap, the size difference of a MP3 file ripped in alt-preset-standard or alt-preset-extreme versus the size of a similar bitrate file in another format is less of an issue.

AAC is a good format, but its another "standard" in a crowded field of compressed music file formats. I wish, if chipmakers started supporting more than MP3 or WMA, to support OGG as well as AAC.

Re:May not make much difference (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 7 years ago | (#18626287)

The OEMs who make generic MP3/WMA players are not likely to pick up a new chip to decode AAC files unless there is high demand for it, because it will noticably affect cost.

Do you have a source to back that up or is it just a guess on your part. AAC is part of the mpeg standard and a lot of chipsets have support for that. I'd be interested to know if chips that support AAC are significantly more expensive than ones that don't.

With disk space being relatively cheap, the size difference of a MP3 file ripped in alt-preset-standard or alt-preset-extreme versus the size of a similar bitrate file in another format is less of an issue.

A lot of people can't fit their collection on their player and if the standard quality of files goes up to match Apple's offering, that effect will double. Also, it is not just disk space that is an issue. File size affects the cost of bandwidth to deliver the songs, which can add up for an online store and it affects how quickly users can download the songs, which might be a differentiator for a market that is such a commodity.

AAC is a good format, but its another "standard" in a crowded field of compressed music file formats.

If I were an MP3 player manufacturer, here is how I would look at it: the number one online store for music has been closed to me thus far, but it is just now opening up and becoming a resource I can capitalize on to sell players... if I support AAC with my player. 75% of current portable player owners (which make up most of the new purchaser market) currently have iPods. If they're looking at alternatives to the iPod and I can make a move to my player easier than a move to a different competitor's player by supporting the format they're already using, that may be a very big win for me.

Obviously each manufacturer will have to do a cost/value analysis for themselves to see if it makes sense, but I suspect players that support AAC are about to go from Apple and MS, to almost everyone within a few iterations. A week ago creative had basically no motivation to support AAC. Today, it may be a move they can't afford not to make.

Can't anyone actually READ anymore? (2, Informative)

MCSEBear (907831) | about 7 years ago | (#18626047)

I honestly expect better from well known sources like Business Week.

EMI clearly said that music stores could made their own choice as to which digital format to make their catalog available in. WMA, AAC, MP3... It is up to the music store who licenses EMI's catalog to decide what format to make the music available in. Apple has chosen AAC. Frankly, I wish they had gone with MP3 since every music player under the sun supports MP3 playback. But with the way people who license the MP3 codec have been being successfully sued for large amounts of bank lately, I can see why Apple would avoid MP3 if they can.

Nobody buys AAC's for their iPods (1)

14erCleaner (745600) | about 7 years ago | (#18626121)

According to a recent article [theregister.co.uk] , less than 4% of online users buy music downloads, with an average yearly expenditure of under $20. Obviously, most of the music on most iPods is MP3's. Why removing DRM from AAC matters is not clear, since most people with portable music players already get their tracks by ripping CDs.

DRM free mp3s are nicer (1)

gsn (989808) | about 7 years ago | (#18626123)

Its more likely that we will get DRM free WMA [com.com] first.

I think we might as well just have everything play mp3,ogg (yes, yes thats the container not the codec I know),aac and wma and pick whatever bloody format you want. I think we should just have DAP players compete on price and actual features rather than artificially based on what formats they support (though it'd be fun to have a good DAP that only supported royalty free formats to bring down the price). This way you could get your DRM free music from iTunes, Yahoo, Napster, ZuneStore or EMusic or next big thing and use it on any player you like.

Even better, Allofmp3 allowe(d|s) you to select what bitrate and format you wanted and really that should be standard for any online music store.

Alternatively if they were just selling DRM free music and HAD to pick a format for some reason then I wish they'd just stick to mp3 because its compatible with everything sold thus far (except some Sony players IIRC) and at 256kpbs I (and I suspect most people) cannot hear the difference between the different formats, and I really wish Apple would do this - yes I know AAC is a great standard and if you can decode mp3 you can likely decode AAC but there are more players out there that support mp3 than AAC and I doubt that most of them are going to get a firmware upgrade (maybe w/ Rockbox). I do want DRM free music but my DAP doesn't support AAC and I hate iPods.

Zune already supports AAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18626195)

"With time, practically all music stores will be selling iPod-compatible songs. This will be considered a Richter 10 event at Microsoft."

Given the Zune already supports aac, I don't think Microsoft is too worried.

Welcome to the next gen (1)

pizzach (1011925) | about 7 years ago | (#18626245)

The article is talking about the next generation audio format war which incidently may just deficate on itself in the end. You can compare these formats against mp3, but that is beside the point.

ogg>aac>wmp

Is mp3 still patent encumbered? I get the feeling that aac is in spirit the same as mp3 when it first came out. A codec you have to pay for, but at least it isn't linked to a specific platform.

Riddle me this ... (1)

SengirV (203400) | about 7 years ago | (#18626311)

How come you can get a ton of different car stereo racks that all play non-DRM'd AAC(burned onto a disk), but you can't get a portable digital music player(didn't want to say MP3 player) which supports non-DRM'd AAC?

There seems to be a big difference in the respective marketplace that I can't figure out.

marginalized? (1)

asilentthing (786630) | about 7 years ago | (#18626319)

when was wma ever not marginalized? i mean, other than it being the default ripping standard in WM and the companies enforcing Win-DRM, who intentionally ripped their audio to wma? Did anyone here do that?

Hallelujah (1)

LowEndTheory (820826) | about 7 years ago | (#18626437)

This is great! Soon I can stop the relatively painless process of burning all my DRM tunes to audio CD and then re-importing them as nice manageable mp3s. God, that used to take minutes and minutes...
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