In Digital Music, Its Gates Vs Jobs

Napster, Real and other music pretenders you have been warned – Microsoft will own you! If you were looking for proof that you will become one of the minions in Microsoft’s grand music strategy, all you needed to do was tune in to the webcast of Bill G’s keynote at CES. Partnering with MTV for URGE, Gates’ has gone back to familiar time tested strategy: get in bed with the most powerful company in the business you eventually want to own.

Not like the company has any option, but to try and extend its game to newer playing fields, like Music, Video, IPTV or whatever! Their core markets are not growing as fast as they did, and that’s acting like a speed bump for the stock! For Microsoft, its about staying relevant. Here is my op-ed from The Wall Street Journal, from back in January 2003.

The MTV’s Microsoft-powered Urge online music service will be selling to the ultimate demographic: the teen set. MTV’s unlimited airtime resources will be hard to match for the likes of Napsters, Yahoos and Reals of the world. Because in order to match MTV’s sales channel, they will have to spend spend spend. (Just like in the PC domain, Microsoft wants to be the “engine”, get a piece of the action, while others simply butt heads. )

So in the end it will boil down to what is by now a familiar story: Bill versus Steve, Microsoft (add partner name here) versus Apple, windows media versus iTunes, some device (add brand name here) versus iPod. Justin Timberlake versus the Gorillaz! Dominatrix in pin stripes versus Diva in a black turtleneck.

Who will win? Not sure, but here is one thing which works against Bill G: coolness is not part of his company’s DNA, I mean Justin Timberlake for god sake! Even old farts like me know, he is sooooo over! What works against Apple? Steve being Steve; keeping the ecosystem closed. Come on, even the toughest bouncer outside the hottest club, once in a while lets the plebs in. How about some love for Sony and Sonos? Nothing for nothing, 2006 is shaping up to be a great year: there are skirmishes everywhere and since this is a sequel, well, let the popcorn pop, and enjoy the show!

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