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Microsoft Businesses Media Media (Apple) Apple

The Partnership That Could Have Changed Everything 167

Posted by Zonk
from the better-than-the-zune dept.
DesertBlade writes "Bloomberg is reporting that, at one point, Microsoft had considered an Apple/iPod partnership before it released its own MP3 player. Microsoft was apparently displeased with MP3 players partnerships they had already made, notably the Creative and Dell models. This information came from court documents introduced in an antitrust lawsuit from Iowa. From the article: 'Microsoft had been working with partners on music devices for at least a year before Apple introduced the iPod in 2001 and catapulted to a dominant position in the market. Microsoft and its partners failed to come up with compelling hardware and had difficulty getting software to properly connect music collections on computers with their devices.' If this Apple/Microsoft partnership was formed how would this have changed the Microsoft and Apple dynamics?"
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The Partnership That Could Have Changed Everything

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  • if Apple and M$ had teemed up, wouldn't that just loose the lawyers en mass?
  • If... (Score:5, Funny)

    by NsOmNiA91130 (942812) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:02PM (#17696090)
    If they teamed up, we would have Windows running on Macs. Oh, wait...
  • by MsGeek (162936) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:02PM (#17696094) Homepage Journal
    ...and you will be treated to the comment that's going to be my next .SIG line here.

    "Longhorn is a pig!" -- Jim Allchin

    And this was said when Allchin was heading up development on Longhorn. Hilarious if it weren't true, even more hilarious because it is.
    • I'm curious. We know that Microsoft scrapped most if not all of the original Longhorn work during the development of what would become Vista. Perhaps Allchin's remarks were made in reference to the original Longhorn. The original work was supposedly complete crap and unmanageable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Pandare (975485)
        So they got rid of what, exactly?
      • They didn't scrap all the original work. They restarted from a more modular codebase and ported in their in-progress existing technology in a more manageable way. It's not like they just rewrote Avalon all over again from scratch in summer of 2004.
        • by Lars T. (470328)

          They didn't scrap all the original work. They restarted from a more modular codebase and ported in their in-progress existing technology in a more manageable way. It's not like they just rewrote Avalon all over again from scratch in summer of 2004.

          Ahh, yes, summer of 2004. Gee, what else happened in Summer 2004, like, say, on June [macrumors.com] 28th [macminute.com]?

  • Like this: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:03PM (#17696098)
    "Hey! You got chocolate in my peanut butter!"

    "You got peanut butter in my chocolate!"

    In this case, though, read "strychnine" instead of "peanut butter".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft in a pink skirt.
  • by Bertie (87778) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:12PM (#17696160)
    ...Here we are, with Microsoft having rejected other manufacturers' hardware as deficient, going it alone, and still coming out with a laughably bad product, even after having all that time to learn from both the successes and failures of others.

    Admittedly, most of Apple's competition seem to have great difficulty getting their head round what seems to me a very simple proposition (make it nice to use and nice to hold, like an iPod, but make it do stuff an iPod can't), so it's not just Microsoft at fault here, but yet again I find myself wondering what the hell their problem is. Sometimes it seems like they just don't want to get it right.

    Although it's probably a good thing that this partnership came about. Because if you think the iPod has a monopoly now, imagine what it would have been like with Microsoft shoving it down everybody's throats. And imagine how little the product wuold have improved over time - I mean, Apple spent the last couple of years sitting on their hands and not implementing relatively trivial features like gapless playback, because they could get away with not bothering. Recently the competition's started to get their act together and they're making noticeable improvements to the iPod line. But we all know what happens when MS is the only show in town, don't we? Not a whole lot, that's what.
    • by Bertie (87778)
      Er, I meant that it's a good thing that this partnership didn't come about.

      I'm now going to write out "I must preview before posting" 100 times...
    • by peragrin (659227) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:30PM (#17696250)
      It's quite simple. hardware manufactures have been creating products like MSFT creates a product. stuff it full of features work out most of the bugs, ignore the the bulk of the user Interface until the last minute and shove the whole pile of crap out the door.(Office 2007 is an exception, at least it's different)

      There is one good thing about the iPhone. Maybe, just maybe someone will realize it's not what features you have and don't have, it's how you use it. cell phones, radios, dvd players, all put features in random locations. How long has voice mail been around? At least Cisco has a visual voice mail option that predates apples but only for landlines. So why haven't any of the other guys thought about it yet? It should be friggin standard, all phones with color screens should be able to do that. yet Every phone available to do requires you to listen to each message separately, wait to it's finished and then delete it. Why can't they list them by phone number called. so you can ignore the call from work while leaving you able to hear the message from your wife telling you to pick something up on the way home. It's not like it takes a genuis to figure this out. yet EVERY electronics company does it.

      The real evolution of computers , hardware, and software, will be to make it actually easy to use. It's Apple call to fame. Whether you like the ipod or not, it's not hard to figure out how to use every feature present.
    • by bluemonq (812827) * on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:40PM (#17696304)
      "(make it nice to use and nice to hold, like an iPod, but make it do stuff an iPod can't)" What does the majority of the market want? Observing my fellow college students, they want a shiny, nice to hold DAP that does just one thing: play music (well, now video too, but that's beside the point). A DAP that does stuff that an iPod can't is not what the majority wants, unless you're talking about maybe better battery life or a lower price. That's it. That's everything. Anything else is just extra stuff that not everybody wants. Why do you think the iPod accessory market is so huge?
      • by jZnat (793348) *
        Why do you think the iPod accessory market is so huge?
        Because the iPod is severely limited in features outside the core ones? You just said that said features were all that matter, and if that were the case, the iPod accessory market wouldn't exist.
        • by dangitman (862676)
          So, you think everybody should pay extra for features that only a small minority actually uses? Everybody should but up with a bulkier iPod because it has to be made bigger for some useless feature? Why do you think people buy computer towers with separate external monitors, rather than having every computer with the monitor built-in?
      • What does the majority of the market want? Observing my fellow college students, they want a shiny, nice to hold DAP that does just one thing: play music.

        That and they want it to be easy. They want it to plug into their computer, get exactly what the user wants from the user's well organized collection and then play it randomly, all without fuss. M$, because it's more concerned with DRM and marketshare, does not get it right either. The things they do to thwart free software and lockdown content make

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stephanruby (542433)
      "...Here we are, with Microsoft having rejected other manufacturers' hardware as deficient,"

      Why are you assuming the reason was hardware deficiency? Partnerships are more than just about meeting technical requirements. Partnerships are also about cost sharing, risk sharing, and revenue sharing agreements (among many other things). And if two prospective partners can not agree on any of those points, then it won't really matter what the specs are going to be -- such a partnership is just not going to happ
    • by badriram (699489)
      Actually there are very few reviews putting down the zune hardware. In fact most of them are positive, and most like the interface. Personally i think it has a better interface than the ipod. The problems with the zune is mostly due to people not liking 3x3 limit to sharing, and zune software lack of features and installation problems.
    • Seems to me innovation at Apple happens regardless of market forces. Case in point: the iPod mini was flying off the shelves. Most people considered it the best player of its size. A Microsoft or a Dell, in Apple's position, wouldn't dare mess around with such an obvious success. What does Apple do? Discontinue it at the peak of its popularity and replace it with the iPod nano, an even smaller and better version at the same price point. They didn't improve on the mini because it was facing any immediate thr
      • Apple's target audience is people who actually give a shit about tasteful design.

        I'd mod you up if I could.

        It's not even that these people are their target audience. Sometimes I think their target audience is only Jobs. I think they don't do focus groups and all that stuff other companies do to figure out what people want.

        I think for Jobs, taste is really what's one of the driving points. There's this youtube video [youtube.com] where Jobs talks about taste, and it sounds incredibly elitist and snobbish, but when yo

    • by telbij (465356) *

      Admittedly, most of Apple's competition seem to have great difficulty getting their head round what seems to me a very simple proposition (make it nice to use and nice to hold, like an iPod, but make it do stuff an iPod can't)

      I think almost every player does something an iPod cant. And I don't think their interfaces are that terrible either. What's missing is branding. Apple's brand is untouchable. Sure, better features and good interface will sell a certain number. But the target market is teenagers a

  • Lessons learned (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PingSpike (947548) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:14PM (#17696166)
    I would hope Apple has learned to be wary of any 'partnerships' that Microsoft may offer them. And given how they left all their partners in PlayforSure holding the bag, it looks like nothings really changed.
    • Reading the article, it seems this wasn't a partnership deal being considered so much as Microsoft wishfully thinking they could convince Apple to interoperate with Microsoft. I can sit in my office and dream of "what if..." scenarios where I partner with Apple or Cisco or IBM, but if I were to approach any of them I can't expect more than being laughed at.

      This Bloomberg article says more about Microsoft's sense of desperation than anything.
      • Maybe you're more famous than me. All I could expect from approaching them is several awkward hours of standing out at the front gate buzzing the intercom and saying, "I have a wonderful idea for a partnership, will you please let me in and let me make an appointment with a high ranking executive?"
    • Too true. Partnering up with Microsoft means that, almost without fail, you WILL get screwed by them. That's just how Microsoft does business.
  • Musings... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nitroadict (1005509) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:14PM (#17696168) Homepage

    I doubt it would've changed much as whatever they would've come up with, most likley being different than the I-pod is today, wouldn't have been as popular. I'd imagine lawyers woulda have the ultimate field day with connecting the dots for anti-trust violations and M$ and/or Apple would've backed away saying "Just joshin, we'll make humourous commercials instead."

    Although the whole "what-if" scenario will still get to those who bother. If anything derived from such a past-possible parternship was indeed sucessful, any more collaboration probably would develop over a much longer-term period of time.

    Unless of course, it were to just own everything on the planet, which in the literal sense of the word, M$ aspires to and Apple likes to own hardware and sell it at fairly expensive prices while both buy/own into the flawed concept of DRM.

    The thought of a Win-Pod, or I-win (perhaps Irwin?) is funny though.

    Needless to say, I'm bored right now ... XD *continues the 9 to 5*

    • Are you kidding? The biggest reason the iPod is popular is because it's flashy, and Steve Jobs can market.

      During the tech boom, Apple and Jobs developed a knack for making products that looked so great, consumers thought they need them. Remember the original reviews? Nobody took the iPod seriously, despite (or perhaps because of) how flashy they looked. Oddly enough, the fact that iPods were flashy was enough for consumers to go out and buy them, regardless of the technical reviews.

      If Microsoft had latc
      • Re:Musings... (Score:4, Informative)

        by dangitman (862676) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @08:23PM (#17698024)

        Are you kidding? The biggest reason the iPod is popular is because it's flashy, and Steve Jobs can market.

        Uh, no. The biggest reason is iTunes, and that the iPod/iTunes combo was very easy to use. Look at the other solutions that were around at the time - the software/syncing procedures absolutely sucked. The software was total crapware - and it was often difficult to navigate a large collection of music on the devices.

        Marketing? The original Mac-only generation of the iPod was barely marketed at all. Yet it was still successful - mainly because of iTunes, which was already widely used by Mac users. Remember "Rip, Mix, Burn"? iTunes came first, as part of the "digital hub" - while with other companies, the software was simply an afterthought.

        Remember the original reviews? Nobody took the iPod seriously, despite (or perhaps because of) how flashy they looked.

        You have a faulty memory. The only people who didn't take it seriously were Apple bashers and slashdot types. Real reviews gave the iPod high marks - with a complaint or two about the price. Aside from the price, serious reviews gave it high marks. Remember that the iPod was the first to offer Firewire syncing. This changed the whole game. Other players used USB 1.1 syncing - which was incredibly sloooow.

        The iPod was also the first with the micro-sized HD - other players were either flash-based with pitiful storage capacity, or used larger HDs, which made the units incredibly bulky. So, if you had bought another HD-based player back then, not only did you get a huge unit - but it would take all day to fill with songs over USB 1.1. This made them pretty pointless, as you couldn't easily change the songs stored on the device without significant syncing time.

        Oddly enough, the fact that iPods were flashy was enough for consumers to go out and buy them, regardless of the technical reviews.

        What do you mean, "regardless of the technical reviews"? the iPod got very good technical reviews, and was in fact far more technically advanced than every other player at the time. Your comments amount to nothing more than revisionist history. Just because CmdrTaco called the iPod "lame" does not mean it was poorly reviewed or received by the market.

        If Microsoft had latched on to Apple's product finesse back then, well, they'd be making a little more cash than they do now.

        If Microsoft had been involved, they would have insisted on Windows Media Player or some "PlaysForSure" crap and totally screwed up the iPod. Why else would Microsoft partner with Apple, if not to try and dominate the market with their software?

      • by jcr (53032)
        Steve Jobs can market.

        This is true, but I doubt that you know what marketing really is. Marketing is finding out what customers want, and making sure that your company's doing it. Moreso than that, it's figuring out what the customers will want, and staying in the lead. Apple's work on the iPod, especially its development over the years since the first 5 GB model shipped, is a textbook example of top-flight marketing.

        Oddly enough, the fact that iPods were flashy was enough for consumers to go out and
  • by ISurfTooMuch (1010305) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:16PM (#17696182)
    We'd probably have gotten a situation where Apple developed a version of the iPod for the Mac, and MS developed one for Windows. My guess is that the Windows version would have been tied into WMP, while Apple would have gone with iTunes. It would have been a mess. I seriously doubt MS would have allowed support for AAC+ on their version, while Apple would have shunned WMA. The market would have been split between the two companies, and the iPod would have likely been a failure. One of the reasons the iPod took off (other than its UI) was the fact that it works across both Macs and PCs. Another reason is the simple design of iTMS. It just works. I seriously doubt that MS could have developed something similar, and they would have stuck their fingers into iTMS just enough to ruin it. Look at the Zune. MS has had years to pick the iPod and iTMS apart, and this is the best they can do? Pathetic.
    • by MrHanky (141717)
      And of course, you base all of this on absolutely nothing. How ... interesting.
      • Yes, I do. First, the original post that started this topic is speculative. Second, unless you have someone from MS come in here and explain things, it's all speculative. And even if this hypothetical MS person did appear, whatever he or she says would still be speculative, since there was never a cooperative agreement between Apple and MS in the first place.
      • And of course, you base all of this on absolutely nothing. How ... interesting.

        I'd say his conclusion at the end, where he doubts that MS could have developed something similar, seems well grounded.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mark Maughan (763986)
      If it would have put Microsoft developers on iTunes for Windows, then I would have been very thankful. iTunes 7 is sluggish as hell. It noticeably drags down the framerate of video games and stutters while doing it. And it's nonstandard interface doesn't play nicely with my dual-headed setup.
      • by dangitman (862676)

        If it would have put Microsoft developers on iTunes for Windows, then I would have been very thankful. iTunes 7 is sluggish as hell.

        And Microsoft would have helped this ... how? By making it twice as bloated? Microsoft developers aren't known for quality programming or lean, nimble software. They are known for having some of the biggest, fattest, most sluggish applications on the market.

    • by SeanAhern (25764)
      Um...that's not a partnership. That's two companies making different, unrelated products. Which is the situation we're in right now.

      In your version, what exactly would the partnership be?
  • but I don't think apple would have considered microsoft.
  • by pyrois (856739) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:35PM (#17696278) Homepage
    So... essentially all this news article is saying, or rather... proposing, is "what if Microsoft and Apple teamed up for the iPod."

    Really just one thing.

    1. There wouldn't be a Zune.

    Considering the way the Zune has been selling, that point doesn't even count.
  • FTFA:
    Allchin, ... also suggested he talk to Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs to get the iPod to work with Microsoft's media software for fear the iPod would "drive people away from Windows Media Player.''

    Why would Apple have agreed to that? What would have been in it for them? In 2003 (when the article seems to indicate the above took place) the iPod was taking off without any help from Microsoft and had been available for Windows since August of 2002. There is no advantage to having the iPod use WMP on Windows machines instead of iTunes. It would have meant that a team of Microsofties would have had to work closely with Apple and likely have had access to privileged information about the iPod to get it to work with WMP.

    That sounds an awful lot like many partnerships Microsoft did in the past: They work with a company, get a good look at the company's closely-guarded crown jewels, and then 'change their mind' about doing what the partnership set out to accomplish. And then a little while later they use the information gleaned during the partnership to come up with a competing product and sink the other company, using high-priced lawyers and weasel clauses buried in contracts to avoid any penalty.

    They already pulled that bit on Apple once when they developed Windows by copying the Mac while they had access to a few prototypes to develop Mac apps, and then hid behind a terribly vague licensing agreement. I don't think Jobs would have fallen for it again.

    ~Philly
    • Correction (Score:4, Insightful)

      by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@NOspam.stango.org> on Saturday January 20, 2007 @03:57PM (#17696414) Homepage Journal
      I don't think Jobs would have fallen for it again.

      Change that to "I don't think Jobs would fall for it," as it was not him who fell for it the first time-- Jobs was gone from Apple in November of 1985 when Sculley signed the agreement with Microsoft.

      ~Philly
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773)
        Well, there's a little more to it than that.

        Woz wrote a BASIC interpreter for the Apple II because it needed something, but he was much more of a hardware guy than a software guy, and writing the BASIC was harder for him than actually designing the computers had been. He ended up writing a BASIC interpreter that didn't have floating point routines, just to get something out the door ahead of everyone else. This was Integer BASIC, which was the first BASIC in the Apple II ROMs. One of his next projects was t
    • Wasn't the iPod still shipped with Musicmatch for WIndows use instead of iTunes in part of 2003? I know the transition to Windows iTunes was pretty quick, but it seems like it might have been around then.

      Even so I agree that Apple had little to gain from an arrangement like that!
  • by ElephanTS (624421)
    Microsoft and its partners failed to come up with compelling hardware and had difficulty getting software to properly connect music collections on computers with their devices.'

    I'm just wondering why did they have problems connecting to computers? What the voodoo techniques didn't work? They needed more chicken's feet? Surely you connect via USB2 (or other fast connection protocol) and hook into a piece of software that's already cataloged the drive for music files. How is that so hard for a company with so
  • by daves (23318)
    It would-ve been lame [slashdot.org].
  • Why is it necessary to 'partner' with Microsoft to run an app on Windows? The last I heard, iTunes runs just fine on Windows. There appears to have been nothing in it for Apple to enter into such an agreement.

    Microsoft needs to figure out a few things to do well, leave others to do what they are best at without interference and be happy that those apps will be ported to the Windows platform. The whole idea that a developer has to cut Microsoft in on a piece of the action sounds a bit like the way the mob wo

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      Why is it necessary to 'partner' with Microsoft to run an app on Windows?
      No, it's not. But why is it necessary to partner with Apple to run an app on the iPod/iPhone?
      Or with MS, on the Zune, for that mattter?
      Why aren't they open to begin with? My guess is, because the OS isn't up to the task.
  • "If this Apple/Microsoft partnership was formed how would this have changed the Microsoft and Apple dynamics?

    Yes, Microsoft would have found a way to screw Apple over like it has with just about every "partner" they have ever had and the two would be locked in a legal battle over it.
  • ... before it released it's own MP3 player.

    it's == "it is" (always)
    its == belonging to

  • I guess my thought would be related to MS' ability to push out DRM, license content, and other stuff. I guess in 2001, I saw no ability on their part to push out ground breaking stuff at any clip. At the time I think it would have been difficult for even MW to come up with a credible DRM platform on the desktop. Further I'm not sure they can execute on a strategy of low end consumer devices where the profit is made in content which they can somehow get in position to license. Yeah, I suppose one might ob
  • Hm, brown iPods anyone?
  • Working standards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Technician (215283) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @04:51PM (#17696738)
    Microsoft and its partners failed to come up with compelling hardware and had difficulty getting software to properly connect music collections on computers with their devices.

    Before USB, I had a handheld computer. It required MS Active Sync. That by itself was not a problem. The problem was the software remained active looking for the device to connect. This was a major problem for everything else I have that uses a RS-232 port. The solution was to abandon Active Sync and let the handheld be it's own island so I could have my serial ports back.

    After USB, Flash drives worked quite well and would work on Mac, PC, and Linux. MS desicded to play a do it our way game which crippled some flash players. Some manufactures kept the devices open so they would attach and transfer as a flash drive. Some went so far as to play music transfered in this way and allowed copying to and from the device. This was not in Microsoft's best interest as they wanted full DRM handshake and a one way transfer. You can delete songs off the device, but copying from it is prohibited. This needing someting other than drag and drop, means a special application which may mean Windows only which is a problem in addition to any other USB port driver issues and corrupt handshakes and keys.

    Drag and drop worked. Flash player manufactures know that. Making a player that has to change mode to handle connections for Plays for Sure simply added a level of complexity to the device. MS tried arm twisting to drop the complexity of 2 modes of operation. In doing so, it broke compatiblility with everything else. For an example of broken drag and drop, try a Creative Zen. You can set aside space for drag and drop, but it won't play any files there, including non-DRM MP3's.

    I bought a Coby flash player. They work fine in drag and drop mode. It will record off the mic or radio and save it as MP3's. I can drag the MP3's off the player. For Coby to have these fine features, they simply dropped support for DRM WMA Plays for Sure content. The player will play MP3's and non-DRM WMA files. The best part is I can save files to it from home on Windows PC's, Linux PC's and at work. It doesn't delete everyting to sync to a new PC unlike Plays for Sure, Zune, or FairPlay crippled things.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      But drag-n-drop sucks for music management, because you have to manually manage the tracks on your player. Most people don't want to go manually deleting files on their player to make room for the new ones. They want the software to automatically update the songs, based on their preferences. Which is why "techies" often have so many problems understanding what people want in a music player and management system. You may enjoy using file systems and manually dragging files, most people hate this approach.
      • But drag-n-drop sucks for music management, because you have to manually manage the tracks on your player. Most people don't want to go manually deleting files on their player to make room for the new ones.

        I use playlists. It's not a problem. I often simply delete everything on the player, then drag a directory of stuff with a playlist to the player. What is nice, is I am able to keep stuff on the player and add to it from several computers which is a major shortcoming of many players. The ability to re
        • by dangitman (862676)

          I use playlists. It's not a problem. I often simply delete everything on the player,

          Yet you were the one complaining about having all the content on a player deleted.

          The ability to record from the mic or radio and copy the MP3 off the player to a computer is often not possible with players that have the datalink one way restricted.

          That's not a problem with the iPod if you are using a recording accessory.

          The ability to copy to and from the player is more of an advantage to some people then automatic music updates on the player.

          But it's only an advantage to a very small minority of people. It's great that you restrict your usage to playlists and manual updates, but many people's needs go beyond that, and prefer technology that does things for them, rather than forcing them into restricted usage scenarios. I find it kind of funny that so many geeks want technology to be li

  • I'm sorry, but this is going a little far. All this article says is that MS was trying to develop an mp3 player and that at one point they considered Apple as a partner. Apple would never have signed on for this. In case you haven't noticed, Steve Jobs is just a little bit interested in making the iTunes delivery chain the method for obtaining media content. Do you think that Apple couldn't put out a slick media center wrapped around the Mac Mini or something if they thought it was in their best interest (I

  • 'cause Hell would've frozen over and counteracted it.
  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday January 20, 2007 @07:39PM (#17697738) Homepage Journal
    It's revealed that the manager of Vista calls it a pig, and would buy a Mac if he had a choice.

    It's also revealed that the company has been violating the terms of the court order stemming from their conviction for breaking federal law.

    The result (according to TFA):"Shares of Microsoft rose 11 cents to $31.11 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. They have risen 4.2 percent this month."

    This must be what is known as "being able to do no wrong".

  • Just probably anybody that goes into any cooperation with Microsoft gets kicked in the ass by MS later.

    Speaking of multimedia/DRM systems MS once had a program called "PlaysForSure". It was targeted towards hardware manufacturers which produce media players and ones that sell media via Internet. It offered these parties an option to cooperate under MS PlaysForSure umbrella - so hardware manufacturers that produce media players would design their hardware to these "specs", media selling companies would desig
  • Which was Jobs's point all along.

    Creative had an ok product, licensed with M$ to be able to play DRM-protected WMP files...only M$ didn't succeed as well as they wanted to get online downloads to use WMP.

    What Apple had was not just one great product, but 3, which when combined won the day.

    They had an mp3 player that was aesthetically impressive, had new inventions for user simplicity (like the volume/menu wheel, which though faulty at first, got better), and easily licensed for 3rd party accessories so you didn't feel like the only way to use it was through the normal headphones.

    They had iTunes the desktop software, with its slick look (though why they insisted on the mac look on a windows box i'll never know, but it seemed to work), a look so impressive that it made the users want to use that as their playback software even without the iPod. Windows Media Player kept changing its look, and kept bumping into wars of codecs and DRM license issues that users simply didn't want to deal with. When prompted to auto-upgrade WMP to a new version, users panic because history with Microsoft software shows that such upgrades often break backwards compatibility or at the very least completely lose all of their existing settings. If upgrading WMP suddenly means you can't watch movies you already have or listen to music you already have, then you won't do it, and upgrades did that with WMP and Real Player a LOT.

    Creative's tool was ok for loading stuff onto the box, but it wasn't "right" for actually playing the tunes as the desktop player, so the integration factor wasn't there the way it was with iTunes/iPod.

    Finally, they successfully got iTunes the store to work (sounds like Spaceballs: the t-Shirt). One stop shopping, fully integrated into the player. Buy the song, put it into a desktop playlist, sync to the iPod, BAM, new music for 99 cents and i never had to change software anywhere.

    Such integration is difficult, but Apple did it where Microsoft never could with their partner relationships as they licensed them at the time.

    Hence the Zume. They now know the only way to play on Apple's field is to do that same integration - player, desktop software as load tool and preferred player, and music store all in one.

    But they'll never get it...or at least not until the "version 3" that it takes Microsoft to have a success for any product launch.
  • by d0n quix0te (304783) on Sunday January 21, 2007 @01:02AM (#17699554)
    And Steve asked him to fuck off

    -S
  • by SnowDog74 (745848) on Sunday January 21, 2007 @11:58AM (#17702312)
    Remember once upon a time even Mac fans such as myself wondered what a better world it might be if Apple had won its suit against Microsoft? This is relevant to the topic at hand because here are the analysts again wondering what a wonderful world it might be if Apple and Microsoft held hands and sang Kumbaya.

    Well, I've come to the conclusion that we were wrong. I have to take a step back though, to the time when analysts kept arguing that licensing Mac OS to run on other machines was the way to go. The analysts never understood, as Steve Jobs did, that Apple is not a software company. That where Microsoft believes that the profits are in the software, that only works if your goal is to be the Wal-Mart of the computer industry... brand dominance by quantity, not quality.

    We saw what happened when Apple licensed out its OS... it was a total disaster. Apple's strength was not the OS alone. They have always been a hardware company that made an operating system only because it allowed them to manage every level of the user experience in one integrated package. No other PC manufacturers have this advantage, and must instead rely on only the hope that a third party OS manages to work just well enough with zillions of third party apps and drivers so that consumers aren't driven away. Well, they're being driven away now... and they're going to Apple. Maybe not in a flood, but one by one they're popping up at Apple's doorstep because the iPod has shown them what a tightly integrated hardware and OS can do -- when it's done right, anyway.

    But could it have been done right if Apple won the suit? I don't think so. By the time it would have happened, Steve Jobs was out of the picture, and Jonathan Ive hadn't yet carved a place as Apple's product design genius. At the time of the 9th Circuit's decision, Spindler was CEO. There's every likelihood that then-bloated and corporatized Apple would have gained some market dominance but would have played it just as complacently as Microsoft has.

    The fact is, the underdog position Apple has held has been very good for pushing them to require better design than Microsoft and Apple's PC manufacturing competitors like Dell, Toshiba, HP, etc. It's possible the company's premature financial success, at a time when Spindler and Amelio were more concerned with turning out "beige boxes" just like the next guy, would have pre-empted any return by Steve Jobs and Apple would not have emerged as the brand zeitgeist to which all other companies designs aspire. Today, while they do not dominate the market in terms of sheer volume, they dominate the market in brand perception, regarded as the most desirable brand by consumers across all products of all types. They have a reputation for quality that PC manufacturers do not. They have a following that PC manufacturers do not. So strong is this following that Apple was forced to announce its iPhone before FCC filings because there's a voracious appetite for Apple rumors. Can anyone imagine throngs of consumers digging through FCC filings to be the first to announce what Motorola's next new whiz-bang product is going to be?

    So, would a partnership with Microsoft be good for Apple or Microsoft? No. Not only would it risk Apple's name being dragged in the mud by inferior multimedia standards managed by a company that doesn't have half the design aesthetic or QC concerns that Apple NEEDS to have. Microsoft can make a shitty product and sit back and watch people have no choice but to buy it... Apple has to work to impress people ... ESPECIALLY core mac fans whose expectations of Apple have never been higher as evidenced by the post-announcement iPhone backlash.

    It wouldn't work for Microsoft either. They've had this fanciful notion that they can make people love their feeble attempts at multimedia domination simply by latching on to Apple's superior product. Where's the benefit for Apple? We already tackled that one. Ok, what happens to both Apple AND Microsoft when customers see
  • What a poorly written article. Did this asshat even bother to read the pdf with the emails these quotes were taken from?

    In an email chain to a couple of MS employees, expressing his dissatisfaction with a Creative Zen player, he tried out, Jim Allchin said: i think I should talk with Jobs. Right now, I think I should open up a dialog l~or support of the iPOD. Unless something changes, the iPOD will drive people away from WMP.

    This is a far cry from Microsoft as a corporation actually considering a partner

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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