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MP3 Winners and Losers for 2003 408

An anonymous reader writes "Richard Menta over at just posted his annual winners and losers list in digital music for last year. The big winner is Apple for dominating MP3 portable player sales and the dramatic success of its iTunes service. Napster savior Roxio and the small independent record labels also made the winners list. The losers list include SonicBlue and Interestingly, Ogg Vorbis made the losers list, not because of the codec per se, but because iTunes has both catapulted the AAC format to number two and stimulated Microsoft to pour more of its efforts ($$$) into WMA and the iTunes clones, leaving little room left for the open source alternative. The 2001 and 2002 winners list are worth a look too and each have links to that year's losers list."
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MP3 Winners and Losers for 2003

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  • What ever happened to -- the company?
    • (Score:5, Informative)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:03PM (#7864252) Homepage Journal
      It was bought by CNet. There was a minor bit of excitement as Michael Robertson,'s founder and current big-cheese at, noted CNet's plans were to close the entire thing down and maybe start something afresh using the domain name (essentially, they bought the domain name for a godawful amount of cash) and felt they should at least pass on's music archive to someone else to store. declined, as far as we're aware the music archive that was at that site is now dead, and so is the site itself.

      There's a bit about it here [] if you're interested.

    • (Score:2, Informative)

      by Rkane ( 465411 ) [] has a nice little blurp on it, as well as the letter [] sent out to users. See the current [] homepage for a cheezy rendition of's future.
  • True to a point... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tempest303 ( 259600 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <nostunksnej>> on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:59PM (#7864225) Homepage
    One thing to keep in mind, though, is that one of the original arguments against Vorbis adoption was "But all the MP3 hardware out there uses a dedicated MP3 decoder chip, so they can't just 'upgrade the firmware' to support Vorbis", along with countless other arguments that deal with the fact that in any given project, 1 codec is easier to deal with than many.

    Well, because we now have MP3, AAC, and WMA, all becoming popular, that means that instead of hardcoded support for 1 format, any company that's serious about making music software or hardware is probably going to want to support a plugin style architecture, which means that supporting a 4th, 5th, 6th, etc, format becomes much easier, so things like FLAC and Vorbis have one more barrier to entry removed from their paths.
    • by Lshmael ( 603746 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:04PM (#7864266) Homepage
      Yes, but if no online music stores are using Ogg Vorbis, it is unlikely that consumer demand will increase. As a result, most of the music player companies will not have the impetus to make a Vorbis plugin, hindering it in the "Codec Wars."
      • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:33PM (#7864445)
        if no online music stores are using Ogg Vorbis...

        This has nothing to do with the popularity of mp3. mp3, like everything else, is more popular simply because it is more popular. It came out 1st, has hardware decoders, and people know what you mean when you say mp3 (a free/cheap music format for my computer, hardware player, etc). People just dont know or care if ogg is better. Also, mp3's were around for _years_ before there were online stores for them.
      • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:55PM (#7864558)
        Most don't have a clue what codec they're using (Windows doesn't display file extentions by default). You'll see Ogg more as it starts costing more to license the mp3 and AAC then it does to make hardware fast enough to play Oggs.
      • by elykyllek ( 543092 ) *
        While they may not have RIAA label music on their sites both
        Magnatune []
        Audio Lunchbox []
        Provide drm-free ogg vorbis files for purchase.
      • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) * on Friday January 02, 2004 @09:52PM (#7864813) Homepage Journal
        Yes, but if no online music stores are using Ogg Vorbis..
        Most (a vast majority of) music sales are CD audio (*). Then the user uses whatever the heck codec he wants to, to compress it. Demand is for whatever people want to use, not for the formats that the music is sold in.

        Any particular codec could be 0% of sales and still have high demand for players. Remember: a few years ago, no music was sold in MP3 format (and even today, very little is sold in that format), but there was (and still is) a huge demand for MP3 players.

        Whatever codec that most people use to encode CDs, is the "must have" format for players. Right now, that is MP3. Some day, it could be Vorbis (though I don't see a trend in that direction). But one thing's for sure: it will never, ever be DRM-wrapped AAC or WMA. Those are guaranteed dead ends.

        (*) IMHO, this is likely to remain the case for a very long time. It requires an above-average amount of foolish short-sightedness for a person to be willing to buy in a lossy format, unless the precision is extremely high (making the files nearly as large as using lossless compressors). It has to be possible to transcode to tomorrow's formats w/out adding significant artifacts, otherwise the format is "unsafe" in the future-proofing sense. Thus, the only serious competition that CDs face, is from codecs like FLAC.

        • by dvdeug ( 5033 )
          It requires an above-average amount of foolish short-sightedness for a person to be willing to buy in a lossy format,

          There's no such thing as a non-lossy digital encoding of analog data. You have to start throwing away data that comes below a certain threshold. CDs are just a lossy format which isn't well tuned to what humans actually hear, so there's a lot of room to throw away data.

          In any case, people bought seriously lossy formats for the first 90 years of music, and they still buy a lossy format for
          • by stuartkahler ( 569400 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @06:28AM (#7866369)
            You seem to have a definition of 'lossy' that is heavily biased against digital formats, and uninformed. Any analog copy loses signal quality from the original sampling. Film doesn't count individual photons, and audio recordings always drop fidelity above a certain frequency. I've yet to see someone make an atom by atom copy of film, audio tape, or grooved record, thus losing information present in the original. Anyone who has ever been to an unamplified concert knows that there is no recording that will sound as good as hearing the instruments live. No photo will ever capture the color and detail of seeing the object live (extreme examples of optical manipulation notwithstanding). Any time there is a conversion, there will be loss.

            The term 'lossy', in regard to information storage, refers to any format that intentionally discards existing data in a particular manner in order to fit into the medium more easily. Non-lossy digital formats would include tiff (I think), rle and bmp (both picture formats), or shn and wav (audio formats). You can convert between non-lossy formats, and get back identical data each time. Just because something is digital doesn't mean it's 'lossy'. Jpg, mpg and mp3 are all lossy because the codecs intentionally fudge data in order to make it fit into a smaller data file. When they're doing a good job, you lose less information than you would when making an analog copy. CDs aren't 'lossy'. They simply have a dynamic range and sampling rate that is narrower than the best analog recording mediums. In the analog world, you can do a lot worse than CD audio.

            By your argument, VHS or Betamax would be a better quality than the digital projector systems that George Lucas and others are trying to get theaters to adopt. Or that a 6 megapixel camera is worse image quality than an SLR with bargain basement film and crappy lens.
    • by Mr Smidge ( 668120 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:44PM (#7864509) Homepage
      But all the MP3 hardware out there uses a dedicated MP3 decoder chip

      I have an idea. How much sense would it make for a company to make a Vorbis-only (or perhaps Vorbis/FLAC-only) hardware player? Before you all scream, here is my line of thinking of why it might be a good idea:
      * Primarily, no expensive license issues.
      * Vorbis-decoding can be done using only integers (FLAC too?), which must save some hardware costs.
      * It popularises the Vorbis/FLAC formats.

      And for the burning issue of "what 99% of the population with music in other formats?". I would propose that the software frontend to this be able to transparently transcode your music from any format (using any software plugin available) to Vorbis (or FLAC if you don't want to lose quality), before copying to the device.

      Benefits to consumer:
      * Supports pretty much any format of music they might have.
      * Would be very cheap to buy.

      I don't think the loss of quality in transcoding will be so important, because after all this is just a portable device, not a portable studio. The only inconvience I could see to a consumer would be a slightly longer delay as audio is transcoded and copied, but at a suitable quality level, I don't think it could make that much of a difference. Of course, there wouldn't be any such extra delay if you were copying a Vorbis or FLAC file to begin with.

      Saving on the hardware costs like that, and using software to handle all the numerous different audio formats sounds like a good idea to me, and so the manufacturer could probably sell it for a lot less than other players. And of course, we all know that Joe Average quite commonly picks the cheapest electronic device that does what they want, rather than worrying about its technical specs.

      Any comments?
      • by Darren Winsper ( 136155 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @09:07PM (#7864617)
        That's simply not a scalable solution, not with current hardware. Take a 10GB MP3 collection, that's around 6-7 days of solid playtime. Now, a 2GHz P4 or XP-2000+ is pretty standard fare, and that would take around 1-2 DAYS to transcode the files.

        As much as I like and use Ogg, an Ogg-only player isn't feasible in the current market. I personally like iRiver's method, when there's limited room in the firmware, give the user choice. With the iFP-300 and 500 series players, they give you a choice between MP3+Ogg and MP3+WMA firmwares.
      • I think that a Vorbis only player would be great, but we would need better reasons to do that.

        Primarily, no expensive license issues.

        If you have software that transcodes from MP3/WMA/Whatever, you'll need a license to decode these anyways so the expensive license issues are still there.

        Vorbis-decoding can be done using only integers (FLAC too?), which must save some hardware costs.

        Again, while Vorbis and FLAC can be decoded with intergers only, so can MP3 (
      • That's the most stupid idea I've ever heard.

        The MP3/AAC licensing costs are miniscule compared to the cost of the rest of the components. It's probably in the range of 50c - $1 per device, or less.The cost of the RAM/HD is 100x any licensing costs.

        The file transfers would be disgustingly slow because of the overhead required to transcode every file to the machine. And it would need proprietary software to put music on it (to do the transcoding) which is one of the few complaints people have about the iPod.

      • Primarily, no expensive license issues.

        I don't remember the numbers, but MP3 licensing costs are insignificant. It's like less than a dollar per decoder.

        Vorbis-decoding can be done using only integers (FLAC too?), which must save some hardware costs.

        MP3 decoding can also be done with only integers []. Cheap players already do this, so doesn't save you anything.

        So you'd be offering a player with no real advantages except a miniscule price decrease, and some major disadvantages (transcoding). As much as I lo

    • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:59PM (#7864582)
      Exactly. That is why there are many players that support OGG Vorbis now. Neuros, Rio, IRiver and a buch of others []. I personally do not want to be locked into a proprietary format like wma or Apple's AAC. And I would never buy an iPod that limitis what I can do with music I buy. I personally don't understand the Apple Fan Boy mentality. On one hand they cheer Open Source and screem how Apple is now BSD on the inside. Though they over look all of the proprietary Apple formats that are attempts to lock comsumers into Apple. Quicktime, Apple's AAC, their restrictive iPod and iTunes, and just about every product they put out. I personally am sick of companies trying to control what I can do with a product I purchase to further their profits. I will stick to buying a CD and legally ripping it to OGG and playing it on a portable player like the Neuros [] that supports it. Read this quickly, because soon Apple Fan Boys will be along and wet their pants and mod this as a troll.
      • Though they over look all of the proprietary Apple formats that are attempts to lock comsumers into Apple. Quicktime, Apple's AAC, their restrictive iPod and iTunes, and just about every product they put out.

        Quicktime is just a means of sequencing frames. It is not a format let alone a proprietary one. I don't see why people continue to think it is one. AAC wasn't developed by Apple. Read their own webpage [] no it. Also, note there is a difference between AAC and an Apple DRM'ed AAC. The iPod plays A
      • Though they over look all of the proprietary Apple formats that are attempts to lock comsumers into Apple. Quicktime, Apple's AAC, their restrictive iPod and iTunes, and just about every product they put out

        Well to be fair, Quicktime and AAC are not proprietary formats. Quicktime is rather open, it's the individual codecs that may or may not be free/Free (such as Sorenson). You can stick pretty much any ol' video or audio stream in a Quicktime file that you like. AAC also is not proprietary to Apple, it

        • I think not being able to copy music back from an iPod is a pretty nasty restriction. And a restriction that suggests that Apple assumes their custoemrs are theives. I don't see how or Why Apple would do it to "Keep the RIAA" happy. Pretty much every other player out there lets you copy songs to it and FROM it and be able to play those songs that are on it with out making a distinction between songs that are playable and not copyable and songs that are copyable and not playable. For ITunes, I personally
        • by Daleks ( 226923 )
          As for the iPod and iTunes, I'm not sure what you mean by 'restrictive'. The iPod lets you do pretty much anything you want, except you can't copy music back to a computer from it.

          Yes you can.
          bob@foo /Volumes/bob's iPod/iPod_Control/Music$ ls
          F00 F01 F02 F03 F04 F05 F06 F07 F08 F09 F10 F11 F12 F13 F14 F15 F16 F17 F18 F19
          All of the music files are contained within those directories. Copy away. It even works for DRM AAC's.
    • by Talez ( 468021 )
      I don't agree. The problem, from my perspective, is that Vorbis was the answer to a question that nobody asked. They released the codec and the general public went "so?".

      IMHO, the only reason why AAC and WMA are gaining in popularity is that there are end-to-end solutions out there promoting these formats. Once people realise the superiority of these next-gen formats over MP3, they will probably start migrating over in droves.

      Although, this is going to cause some nasty format wars. iTunes can't play WMA e
  • big losers (Score:5, Funny)

    by Savatte ( 111615 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:01PM (#7864239) Homepage Journal
    In my opinion, anyone who downloaded Creed was a loser, not just for this year.
  • NAPSTER? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:01PM (#7864242) Journal
    I don't know how they can be considered a winner. Quite frankly, the only think they have going for them is their logo. Everybody and his uncle is setting up a store to sell WMA downloads, and Steve Jobs has stated that profits are almost non-existant.

  • by Krapangor ( 533950 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:02PM (#7864248) Homepage
    DRM is coming.
    Yes, we'll all start to whine and complain but there is no way to stop it.
    Without DRM to whole business chain of the entertainment industry is fucked. So they'll enforce it.

    With this background fact, you won't wonder that OGG was turned down. The encryption shemes will make sure that the song only play on certificated players. However a player which supports formats which can be used to illegal copies will never get such a certification. So the manufacturers will avoid these formats at all cost.

    When you watch this development the original movitivation of the OGG development team seems to very naive and economically clueless. While there might be some niche applications for OGG, it will be useless for the downtrodden masses. Basically the development of OGG has merely an academic value.

    • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:18PM (#7864365) Homepage
      DRM is coming

      DRM can be used with Ogg. Oops. There goes your whole argument.

    • With this background fact, you won't wonder that OGG was turned down. The encryption shemes will make sure that the song only play on certificated players. However a player which supports formats which can be used to illegal copies will never get such a certification.

      Formats like MP3, you mean?

      • the only reason that Windows Media Player supports mp3 and that all of the "portable MP3 players" support mp3 is becuase it's already all over the place. *NOBODY* could sell an MP3 player that doesn't support mp3s.

        It's already out there and too prevalent.

        But... the businesses have no interest in distributing mp3s, they want proprietarty, drm-laden formats that guarantee profit.

        So, for most sheep-like consumers, ogg has no importance.

        For opensource and free software, OGG is golden.
    • by dotwaffle ( 610149 ) <slashdot@wals t e r . o rg> on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:24PM (#7864401) Homepage
      OGG is not an academic project. It really is very efficient and very nice sounding, far better than WMA or MP3. I admit, I have not tried AAC. And DRM may be coming, but it sure as hell isn't going to stay. Look at Region Coding... It's being phased out as people realise that it is in fact a way for companies to weasle money out of people when they could in fact buy the same product, from the same manufacturer and artist, several months earlier in the case of the UK, and at a lesser cost. Needless to say, DRM will be a bad idea, as it restricts not only where the user may use the data, but when, and also from which agent they purchase it - they will HAVE to get an authorised version from the publisher of the music, and have to get permission to copy it to a CD, or their iPOD or the tape for their antiquated car stereo (yeah, I still have a tape deck). I will go out of my way to buy a higher quality CD rather than a rubbish quality MP3 off the internet. 128Kbps MP3's really are awful if you have spent more than a fiver on your speakers. 192Kbps OGG (equiv to at least 256Kbit MP3, or maybe more) preserves almost everything, and until companies get real and start providing lossless music downloads, I'm sticking to buying CD's. Sure, I may still download music, but as I think the radio is awful quality, and the adverts are sheer annoying waffle, I feel good knowing that by downloading (I admit, pirating) these tracks, I am exposing myself to their music, and consequently may purchase more.

      Take four star mary, I got interested in them back in 2000. I listened to one of their tracks that came on a compilation album. I liked it, so I downloaded a track or two more. Still, I liked it, but wasn't happy with the quality. Knowing they are a small time band, I went out and bought an album. I now own both the albums, and some merchandise, and have seen them live. I'm sure this rings true with other too. Downloading one or two tracks doesn't harm the artist or the industry, downloading an entire album when you like their music and could have afforded buying the CD DOES. It's down to the guilt of the involved party on whether they should contribute or not.

      It's all about what people deserve, and if the recording (and indeed, movie) industry want to force us to pay through the nose for it all, they're going to have egg all over their collective faces when users start looking for alternatives. iMusic only works because it's cheaper than buying CD's, and doesn't force you to commit to one format - Microsofts way would more than likely commit to WMA.

      To go back to my original point, with the right word of mouth techniques, OGG could go far. Really far, especially as it can't be stifled like WMA. You know what I mean, and you know it makes sense. It's not bad business, it's good business. Trust your customer, and they're more likely to make a return visit!
    • While there might be some niche applications for OGG, it will be useless for the downtrodden masses. Basically the development of OGG has merely an academic value.

      Some niche applications? From this and the responses to it, it seems like most people vastly underestimate the amount of applications that use embedded compressed audio (for example, video game soundtracks). Every one of these people/companies stands to benefit from OGG because it's as good as anything else out now quality-wise, but is totally

  • by coronaride ( 222264 ) <coronaride AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:04PM (#7864261)
    The best portable music device is the metal plate in my head! Too bad I only get the Fiesta music station... :(
  • A Missing Loser? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by illuminata ( 668963 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:05PM (#7864269) Journal
    How come there was no mention of Emusic on the loser list? They switched to a much more restrictive user agreement and had a mass exodus of their subscribers.
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:08PM (#7864292)
    Because on my box I've got vorbis files, but there seems to be a distinct lack of ACC and WMA files.

    Ah, I get it. You mean little room left in the commercial, RIAA endorsed online music store field.

    What has that got to do with an open source solution? Is there "no room" for Linux because of all the money Apple and MS are pouring into their operating systems?

    Open Source means will continue to serve very well for Open Source ends.


  • (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nnnneedles ( 216864 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:09PM (#7864301)
    I once visited when they we're still going strong. They had something like 400 employees and very luxurious buildings with graffitti on the walls and everything.

    They were having a talent show there, and I expected to see some of the thousand of bands they had signed up performing. Unfortunately, it was the employees themselves who were the talent. With the bosses performing their own poems and so on.

    I feel sorry for the guys working there, as you could smell the money being burnt everywhere you went, and they probably had no idea they were already dead.

    This was almost 3 years ago, and back then they had already been working for six months on the next generation music-selling tech that they are currently advertising on their site.

    The point to all this is: Don't employ 400 people unless you are generating huge amounts of cash.
    • luxurious buildings with graffitti on the walls and everything.

      Wow that does sound like a cut above!
    • yes! Exactly! Many years ago I made an artist account to *reserve the name of my band* on their site (I was still in the process of building my studio let alone having any songs to upload).

      Every 6 months they mailed me a nice laptop type bag! I ended up with *3* of them and gave them all away (sure wish I had one now though).

  • by JoeLinux ( 20366 ) <joelinux&gmail,com> on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:09PM (#7864306) Homepage
    Great, just when we get the trolls content here, ANOTHER website stirs them up.

    Ok, just so it's put down, please select your Ogg/Vorbis argument from the following menu:

    1) Ogg/Vorbis is supported by (obscure mp3 player). Why should I get that (*drool*) new, affordable iPod?
    2) Ogg/Vorbis can work in a DRM-based business model! Here is how: Step 1: Get five candles and a live goat.
    3) Ogg/Vorbis is the best. Me and my four friends will not buy anything that won't support that. I'm sure Apple will be shaking in their boots from this ultimatum delivered from my parent's basement.
    4) Hey! Why don't I just convert the mp3 collection to Ogg/Vorbis?
    (Followed by: "Idiot: those are both lossy mediums."

    Ok, I'm done.


    In God we trust. Everyone else keep your hands where I can see 'em.
    • Step 1: Get five candles and a live goat.
      Step 2: ...
      Step 3: Profit!
    • iRiver and Rio are hardly obscure.
    • Not a bad sum up. You noticed that ogg has hardware support. You notice that ogg can be abused by greedy publishers like the inferior formats. You noticed that ogg is superior and you noticed that it's not easy to convert from one compressed format to another. All of that is good, but it's not what convinced me.

      The fact that ogg is free is what convinced me to encode my music that way. I don't have to pay for an encoder. I don't have to compile LAME. I don't have to worry about DRM screwing me out o

    • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @09:28PM (#7864701)
      1) Ogg/Vorbis is supported by (obscure mp3 player). Why should I get that (*drool*) new, affordable iPod?
      Yeah, your comment makes sense if you consider, all of these "obsure"

      Neuros Digital Audio Computer []
      Rio Karma []
      iRiver iHP-100, iHP-115, iHP-120, iGP-100, iFP-3xxt, iFP-5xxt []
      Kenwood's Music Keg []
      And a bunch of others [].
      IMO, the Neuros [] is much better then the iPod. Is cheaper and the battery replacement is from $0 - $12 depending on if it is in warranty or not, which is much cheaper then Apple's $50 or so.
      2) Ogg/Vorbis can work in a DRM-based business model! Here is how: Step 1: Get five candles and a live goat.
      Umm, Ogg/Vorbis is an Open Source codec released under a BSD style license. You can wrap it in any proprietary DRM you want and save tons of money from not having to a) write your own codec or b) pay royalties to use someone elses.
      • IMO, the Neuros is much better then the iPod. Is cheaper and the battery replacement is from $0 - $12 depending on if it is in warranty or not, which is much cheaper then Apple's $50 or so.
        It's also very large. My iPod slips discretely into my pocket, while the Nomad Zen (which is smaller than the Neuros by a good bit) makes an uncomfortable bulge. The Rio Karma is similarly unpocketable, because it is wider and thicker than the iPod. And I refuse to wear cargo pants!

        As for price, the iPod is well
      • I dunno, I kinda think the Neuros is better than an iPod in the sense that a Chevy Cavalier is better than a Volvo S60.

        In that if you can't afford the build, design, usability, and style, then saving some money is probably worth it. You can get more features at less price!
  • Ogg? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kupo zero ( 581452 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:13PM (#7864325)
    I don't really think Ogg Vorbis is a loser this year, in fact I think otherwise. It got tremendous exposure from being the main audio format in RH, and a lot of open source big wigs are pushing for it. It at least caught my attention, all my CD rips are now in Ogg Vorbis format.
    • I'm guessing that puts in the minority. I think most people were just irritated that the new RH couldn't play their MP3s anymore, did a Google search, downloaded the RPM and got on with their life.
  • by vudufixit ( 581911 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:13PM (#7864327)
    The consumer - we get sued, screwed, and DRM'd out of our right to enjoy the music we purchase the way we want to.
    • Maybe I am naive, but I have yet to get screwed by Apple's DRM policy. In fact, I don't really notice the DRM there at all in iTunes, with its liberal streaming/burning capabilities.
  • IRiver (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gyan ( 6853 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:15PM (#7864341)
    The iHp-120 is a winner too and it plays Ogg.
  • by bryerton ( 524453 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:15PM (#7864347)
    As a game developer, using ogg vorbis as a royalty free, open source audio decoder rocks. I can use it on the two platforms I care about (mac and pc) for free. Booyah.
  • OGG VORBIS (Score:5, Funny)

    by molafson ( 716807 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:25PM (#7864405)
    Just as every cassette left in a car for a fortnight is destined to turn into a 'Best Of Queen' album [], every discussion of digital music on Slashdot must eventually become a polemic re: Ogg Vorbis.
  • the *real* winner (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alizard ( 107678 ) <> on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:58PM (#7864573) Homepage
    The RIAA record labels, at the expense of most of the rest of us.

    Apple chose to buy into the RIAA distribution model when setting up iTunes, and as a resul, is only breaking even on selling music and making its money back on selling iPods.

    Instead of buying Universal and being able to bundle a few dozen albums with each iPod free and sell tracks for .25 each at a profit and use their ownership of content as a tool with which to club the rest of the content industry when negotiating per-download proces, they chose to pay bridge toll to the entire record industry and by willingness to pay all of their net income after expenses to the RIAA, reinforced the RIAA's business model and boosted the net cap of each RIAA company.

    If they'd managed to leverage their content ownership into much lower download prices, they'd be selling all the downloadable tracks from other companies at a profit, and other computer companies would be using this to beat down prices when they bought their own major labels.

    The RIAA labels are very definite winners because their net caps went up. Their attempt to prevent independent competitors from using the Net for promotion via P2P and Internet Radio is a lot less important in the short term.

    Instead of spending some of the money they had in the bank, Apple turned digital downloads into a game nobody is going to be able to profit at legally.

    Apple belongs on the winners list... at #8. They could and should have been #1, the major consumer electronics players would be on the winners' list, the general public would be on the winners' list, and the suits at all the major labels could have been on the top of the lus3rz list.

    Will Apple stay a winner? How long can they sustain the iPod at the current inflated margins? If they can't subsidize iTunes because of shrinking margins, iPod turns from a win to a money-loser.

    All it takes are some good competitive products, and Apple hardly has a monopoly on good or even visionary consumer products designers.

    If Apple has to cut iPod prices to commodity levels to keep selling them, there go their margins and their ability to keep iTunes alive at a break-even or money-losing basis, more product sales mean more money-losing downloads and more red ink.

    If this happens, and I think this inevitable, their short-sightedness will have cost them not only money, but a chance to turn the downloadable music market into a benefit for everybody not an RIAA label executive.

    Apple could have made the consumer electronic industry a hell of a lot stronger and boosted their bottom line at the same time.

    Instead, there's a pretty good chance that iPod + iTunes in a couple of years will make Steve Jobs look like a dickhead, not a hero.

    • Re:the *real* winner (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gwbuhl ( 462020 )
      It's unlikely that the iPod will maintain large marketshare for MP3 players. It costs too much, but then Apple is a harware company that sells premium products. The iPods will likely maintain their postion as preminum product. So even if thier market share falls to 3% of the MP3 player markets, Apple know how to deal with that

      What they did is they created a market for their hardware, which pretty much makes them a winner. Sure they won't maintain marketshare, but in the meantime make money while the mo
    • Instead of buying Universal and being able to bundle a few dozen albums [...]

      Instead of spending some of the money they had in the bank, Apple turned digital downloads into a game nobody is going to be able to profit at legally.

      Instead of spending some of their money? How about all [] of their money? They only had $4-5 billion in the bank at the time, and Vivendi was asking $6-7 billion for the music division. Assuming Steve was able to talk them down to $3-4 billion, that would leave Apple with litt

  • by InfiniteWisdom ( 530090 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @09:03PM (#7864598) Homepage
    To be honest, it is one of the stupidest names I have ever heard. I'd feel embarassed about telling someone about my "Ogg Vorbis" collection.
  • They've been raging since god knows when. Maybe in a consumer's mind, post-Napster, yeah, they're suddenly noticing the flamewars.
  • Ogg Vorbis a loser? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Asterax ( 522761 )
    As I recall, someone developed a plugin [] for Ogg Vorbis support in iTunes. Seemingly, the introduction of AAC should of done nothing to detour the popularity of .ogg. Of course WMA is a different story.
  • I ain't buyin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WildBeast ( 189336 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @09:08PM (#7864626) Journal
    Why would I buy it for? I don't think it's worth buying an expensive MP3 player in order to listen to crappy songs. One way or another, I refuse to encourage the RIAA.
  • "Napster savior Roxio"??? Huh? How is Roxio the savior of Napster? Because they bought the Napster name for (according to the article which I did read) "a song"? Nice save there. As a former user of the original Napster service (a moment of silence, please....), I am not impressed.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @10:40PM (#7865029) Homepage Journal
    Many unsigned and independent artists provide free downloads of their music as a way to publicize themselves. I list many places to find them in my article Links to Tens of Thousands of Legal Music Downloads [].

    For example, iRATE Radio [] is a free (as in speech) downloader that fetches MP3s from websites that provide free, legal downloads. It uses collaborative filtering to learn your tastes and select songs based on the ratings of other users who like the same kind of music you do. iRATE's database of MP3 URLs has 46,000 tracks registered.

    My article has a Creative Commons license. I urge you to copy and distribute it. In addition, I'm looking for help in translating it to languages other than english. The first such translation, to Romanian, was performed by an incredibly helpful fellow named Ciprian Mihet: Legaturi catre Zeci de Mii de Download-uri Legale de Muzica [].

    The article also discusses what you can do to make peer-to-peer filesharing of music legal []. That's a realistic possibility, considering that more Americans share files with p2p apps than voted for George Bush in the last election.

    That's why I want to get every US p2p user to read my article before the upcoming US elections, in November of this year. I want copyright reform - meaning much more than just the repeal of the DMCA - to be a central issue in the upcoming election.

  • SqueezeBox anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by krray ( 605395 ) * on Friday January 02, 2004 @11:01PM (#7865121)
    Not one mention of the SliMP3 [] player. Almost a shame. (it's my favorite toy add-on with iTunes :)
  • by OzJimbob ( 129746 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @08:12AM (#7866492) Homepage
    I'm just a bit suprised to hear people actually have entire music collections in WMA format. A search of my Windows partition (no point looking for them in Linux) has discovered... three, all of which appear to be the "sample" files that come with Windows XP! I can't remember ever even seeing them on any legal indie music sites like BeSonic [], or in peoples collections in any filesharing programs. I don't think I've ever listened to a WMA net radio station - all the good stuff seems to be on streaming mp3 and ogg. Where, in all honesty, are you people getting them from? I guess I'm out of the loop.

A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two. -- Seneca