Battling for PC Attention
Apple CEO Steve Jobs couldn't have said it better: “Hell may have frozen over.” In mid-October, Apple unveiled its iTunes Music Store for Windows; at that time, Apple reported that more than 13 million songs had been sold on the iTunes Music Store — and that's without 95% of the market being able to access the music. In addition to iTunes' current features — such as the ability to burn CDs and rip files from CDs to MP3s — the Windows version supports Rendevous file sharing, i.e., users can access each other's playlists whether they are on a Windows or a Mac.
To boost consumer acceptance, Apple announced a partnership with America Online that will give some 25 million AOL users one-click access to the iTunes Music Store from the AOL Music site. Apple will, in turn, offer original AOL content (such as Sessions@AOL and BroadBAND Rocks!) through the iTunes Music Store. Continuing its sweeping campaign, beginning February 1, 2004, Pepsi will print codes to 100 million free songs — available only in the iTunes service — on its Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Sierra Mist soft drinks.
Also offering $0.99 downloads/$9.99 for most albums (without a subscription) on a PC is Musicmatch's Downloads service, which boasts content from all of the majors and a slew of indies. Downloads are provided as Windows Media files, which the user can burn to CD. www.musicmatch.com
And back from the dead, the revamped Napster 2.0 (PC only) launched on October 29 by parent company Roxio, and offers $0.99 downloads/$9.95 an album of more than 500,000 titles; a subscription plan is also available for $9.95 a month, which offers unlimited listening/downloading, 40 commercial-free interactive radio stations, and community features such as e-mailing tracks to friends and sharing playlists with other Napster users. Tracks and albums can be burned to CD and transfer music to a portable device (including a co-developed family of portable devices with Samsung Electronics). Napster 2.0 will be the featured music service on Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004; later this year, Gateway will be the only PC manufacturer to ship Napster and 150 songs preloaded on every desktop.