Scott's Viewport

Thursday, January 26, 2006

iPod Monopoly

At MacWorld this year Steve Job's announced an 85% market share for the iPod. Though I doubt this would be legally found to be a monopoly in a court of law (Microsoft had over 90% market share when it got tagged as a monopoly), maybe it is time for Apple to declare it has a de facto monopoly in MP3 players, and behave accordingly. Do you think it could hurt sales to declare you're the only game in town?

Specifically, they should "cease and desist" from any competitive practices that would be deemed illegal under U.S. anti-trust law. It's ok to have one monopoly, but you can't leverage it to gain other monopolies. Either they should offer support for 3rd party DRM's through the Apple Music Store and iTunes, or they should license FairPlay for others to use.

Steve Jobs has said this doesn't make business sense for Apple to do. Perhaps he is following Microsoft's playbook too closely. Sure, they might lose MP3 player market share if they allowed competitors access to the Music Store. But Apple doesn't need a monopoly in the same way Microsoft has needed them in the past, because their products compete on merit, not on network-effect lock in. And I believe the Apple Music Store has evolved into something with a potentially larger future than the iPod.

I've always had a smile on my face when I hand money to companies run by Steve Jobs. The fact all my Music Store purchases are locked into the iPod product line makes me frown for the first time.

Related blogs:
  • iTunes 6 and FairPlay
  • Does Apple Need To License FairPlay?

  • Update: Wow! An anti-trust lawsuit against Apple has been given the go-ahead in the U.S. District Court of Northern California. Time to wake up Apple!

    And it may be too late for licensing Fairplay in France to stop the enacting of laws that allow French citizens to break the iTunes DRM.

    Monday, January 23, 2006

    Sight Reading vs. Sight Playing

    In my household, several people are involved in plinking pianos and plunking guitars. I've played a little of each (more guitar than piano), and I find my perennial novice status gives me insights into the learning process, insights that seem out of reach to an experienced instructor.

    courtesy of stickywiki -- Creative Commons license

    First and foremost, they should really call it "sight playing" instead of "sight reading". Sight reading implies a cognitive awareness of the name of each note as you play it. I know some people can do that, but it isn't necessarily the easiest or fastest way to think about it. Sure, you have to know the notes on the staff and on your instrument well enough to get oriented at the start of a song, but after that you follow the number of steps on the scale, up or down, between the current note and the next note, and translate that to the number of necessary steps (in a given scale) on your instrument.

    courtesy of milewalker -- Creative Commons license

    The next thing to note is that doing this on a piano is far easier than doing this on a guitar. Why you might ask? Though it's true that learning different scales takes a similar effort on both instruments, things get harder on a guitar when you have to skip one or more notes on the scale. On a piano you dedicate a finger to each note in a scale, so skipping a note can be as simple as skipping a finger. On the guitar it takes far greater facility with the scale to be able to skip arbitrarily around from any given note.

    Do you know anyone who has backed away from playing an instrument because "sight reading" seemed an impossible mental hurdle for them? Tell them about "sight playing."

    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    Let Me Introduce Myself...

    This is my blog of semi-professional concerns, essays on vocations of mine that might have made me money in the past, or might make me money in the future. I'm a computer programmer, living in Northern California, with a background in imaging, graphics, and user interfaces.

    I also like photography and music and travel. Nothing better than a trip to NYC to take pictures of bands with my cellphone:
    Babyshakes at CBGB's Lounge, April 2005.

    I once kept a blog on Advogato, but I'm not the same devotee of free software I once was. It's a long story...

    One more introductory thing: Viewport was the original name of the corporation I ran from 1994 thru 2000. But I got a cease-and-desist from the party that registered the trademark "Viewport+" quite a while after I registered the domain name I didn't feel like fighting it, and I found something better. Hope they don't come after me again for using this picturesque English word in the name of this blog.