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Summary:

The online music business might be in its infancy, but that is not stopping folks from indulging in legal music download formats which are taking on a tone of religious tussles of medivial times. And once again the battle is between Apple and its long time […]

The online music business might be in its infancy, but that is not stopping folks from indulging in legal music download formats which are taking on a tone of religious tussles of medivial times. And once again the battle is between Apple and its long time nemesis, Microsoft, reports The Independet of UK.

It boils down to this: will Apple support Microsoft’s “Windows Media Audio” (WMA) format for purchased music on the iPod music player? Or has the Apple-preferred (but not Apple-owned) “Advanced Audio Codec” (AAC) format that it uses through its own iTunes Music Store become a de facto standard that others – including Microsoft – will have to adjust to?

The article contends that sooner or later Apple will have to support the WMA format. Apple might have 25 percent of the digital music player market, it will need to support other formats in order to get even more beefier. Microsoft faces an uphill battle because when people think MP3 players, they think IPod. Sort of like PC means Windows. It hurts when shoe is on the other foot.

By Om Malik

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  1. Kamalesh Thakker Tuesday, February 3, 2004

    The audio file format war being waged today, I find quite interesting.

    We’ve seen this before but reversed — with Microsoft huffing and puffing about why all should bow to their file format (defacto standard, 110% market share of Office and rising, rich user experience, blah, blah, blah…no mention of humungo file sizes and general bloat, alas).

    I find the recent commentary about Apple’s iPods not supporting WMA (or Real) format to be insulting.

    The dangers of file formats have to do with control and subsequent user choices narrowing. This is easily done when a monopoly player also happens to own the file format.

    In this new case, Apple does not own the AAC (MP4) format, while WMA *is* owned by Microsoft.

    What person not on medication and/or suffering from short-term memory loss would insist that iPods support WMA format? As MP3 slowly is replaced with MP4, wouldn’t this be a perfect juncture for Microsoft to snatch back file format control?

    (I never noticed back around 1990, Microsoft volunteering to support WordPerfect files, and Lotus 1-2-3 files back when they were bundling Windows licenses with Office suite sales.)

    /kt
    L.A., Calif.

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