Something Sounds Familiar (7/17/03)
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Say, did anyone notice just how heavily discussion during that conference call was skewed towards topics of a decidedly musical nature? And there was plenty of good news on that front, too. Consider, for instance, the fact that Apple sold 304,000 iPods this past quarter; not only is that up from 80,000 iPods sold in the previous quarter (and 54,000 sold in the quarter a year before), but it's also almost a third of all iPods ever sold, which certainly suggests that the iPod is still a massively accelerating product. Then there's the fact that Apple has sold 6.5 million songs from the iTunes Music Store in less than three months, and that's just going to pop straight through the roof once the Windows version of iTunes ships later this year. And like Fred said, iTunes for Windows may well serve as a "Trojan horse," selling still more iPods (and maybe even some Macs) to those poor sods still moldering over there on the Windows side of the fence.

Of course, there's still plenty of time for the Windows version of the iTMS to fall flat on its face, especially in light of competing music download services which are hoping to beat Apple to market. We've mentioned lots of other wannabes in the past, but the latest copycat to jump on the bandwagon may also be the most direct threat to the iTMS's success. We're talking about Buy.com, who wins the "No Trace of Shame" award for not only appropriating Apple's 99-cents-per-song/no-monthly-fee model, but also for deciding to name its service "iMusic." No, we're not kidding. The company confirmed its plans yesterday, according to internetnews.com. And the reason this might spell trouble for Apple is that Buy.com's little project is set to launch this coming Tuesday with "a massive promotional campaign in New York City's Times Square."

A launch this early gives Buy.com a five-month head start on the iTMS-- maybe. Apparently it's not even clear whether or not Buy.com has any licensing deals in place with the labels, so it's possible that this "massive promotional campaign" will be promoting a service with no actual songs on its shelves. That strikes us as a fairly major omission. Now, the article cites an analyst from Jupiter Research who claims that Buy.com doesn't actually need licensing deals with the labels, because it could just "partner with a third-party firm that already owns licenses." There's just one little problem with that plan: isn't Apple pretty much the only company that managed to secure pay-per-download rights from all five major labels? Heck, even Apple reportedly still needs to persuade three of them to sign on for the Windows version of iTMS; regardless of whether or not that actually happens, we'd be at least mildly surprised if Apple joined up with Buy.com against, well, Apple.

So we're actually pretty keyed up for Tuesday, just to hear what this iMusic deal is really all about, because there could be some serious drama in the offing. Meanwhile, it's nice to know that once Apple gets iTunes for Windows out the door, it'll already have all its music and technology in place. In addition to the 200,000-something songs from the five (we hope) majors, we expect Apple will have a healthy selection of indie music by then as well; that meeting with the indie labels is just now starting to bear fruit, as Billboard reports that Vagrant's own Dashboard Confessional has just released the first single from its upcoming album A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar as an exclusive download at the iTMS. Consider the floodgates opened.


 
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The above scene was taken from the 7/17/03 episode:

July 17, 2003: Apple beats the analysts and posts a $19 million quarterly profit-- and is just chock full of happy news. Meanwhile, Buy.com prepares to take on the iTunes Music Store with its own Windows-catering copycat called "iMusic," and Microsoft admits that virtually every version of Windows contains a massive security flaw-- the day after it wins a $90 million, 5-year contract to supply software to the Department of Homeland Security...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4081: Time For The Happy Dance (7/17/03)   Yeeeaaaaahhhhh BUDDY! If you found the time to tune in to Honest Fred Anderson's quarterly conference call with the analysts, you already know that the news is good, the ink is black, and it's nothing but sunshine and smooth sailing from here on in...

  • 4083: And Boy, WE Sure Feel Safe (7/17/03)   It's not just us, right? Surely there are other people out there who are even now wondering just what the heck the Department of Homeland Security was smoking when it officially named Microsoft as its "primary technology provider" last Tuesday...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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