Back when Apple announced the Safari web browser for Windows, Mozilla missed a great opportunity to plug their Firefox browser, choosing instead to whine like sniveling babies. I called them on that tack, and suggested what they should have done.
Now it appears that eMusic is following the same path. Showing zero confidence in their own offering, they’ve shriveled up at mere rumors of a possible iTunes subscription model and, avoiding the rush, got in line immediately with cries of Antitrust. Pathetic.
EMusic, I’ve been a subscriber for over two years. I love your service and think it’s great. You’re whining here is ridiculous. David Pakman, CEO of eMusic had this to say:
“They’re basically saying, ‘Let’s give a piece of every iPod sale to the record labels in exchange for bundling in all the music you can eat with every iPod'” said Pakman. “That’s classic Sherman Antitrust Act behavior. It’s called tying, and it’s where a company with a monopoly position in one market uses that monopoly position unfairly to compete in another.”
Nonsense. First, all DRM music (by definition) is tied. That’s been the legal digital download landscape for years. In fact, your site is one of the bright, shining exceptions to this rule. Amazon has come on board as well (because the labels let them), and parts of iTunes (again, as the labels let them).
The company’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows “killed the browser market, it killed Netscape.
I’m no fan of Microsoft, but Netscape had as much to do with killing Netscape as Microsoft ever did. IE gradually overtook and exceeded the Netscape browser in terms of features, speed, and functionality. Microsoft corrupted that advantage with ActiveX, etc., but that came later, after Netscape delivered bloated releases of crap and lost their market, deservedly so.
My beef with Pakman’s comments is the same as I had with Mozilla and Safari. Why don’t you turn this occasion into a chance to sell your product? It’s a golden opportunity to get your service in front of people — since you’ll be asked — and ride the free publicity to make it clear what you offer that Apple doesn’t. How about something like this:
EMusic has been offering titles for an average of only 30 cents a song for years. And these are DRM-free, high-quality MP3s that can play anywhere.
Apple’s possible subscription service is clearly a move to better compete on price — after all, they’ve charged over three times what we do from the beginning. However, I feel when the details are revealed it will still be an unpalatable choice to many consumers.
A subscription model, by necessity, must carry very restrictive DRM. Even Apple’s already restricted FairPlay would be too “generous” to support such a model. Reports are that the new model would require streaming only, and certainly CD burning and transportability will be limited, if not banned outright.
Our music has always been, and will continue to be, DRM-free. You buy it, you own it, you do what you want with it. We have over three million titles, and growing. And since we do not charge Apple’s high prices for ownership, hundreds of thousands of consumers have seen the benefits to our approach.
When eMusic can’t say something like the above, and instead runs to hide behind some scare-mongering FUD about “antitrust”, it makes me think that they’ve already given up. I’m surprised they have this little faith in their service.
Fearing your opponent is never a good strategy. Respect them. Don’t ignore them. But running scared is not a smart move.