[Marxism] iPod and iTunes and media i-diocy

JC Helary jch.helary at free.fr
Tue Nov 29 19:25:53 MST 2005

> With 30 million iPods out there, this is probably a good time to  
> assess
> the putative paradigm shift represented by iTunes. So how many  
> songs has
> iTunes sold to fill up those 30 million music players, most of which
> hold a thousand songs or more?

Files downloaded through itunes or managed with itunes are not stored  
on an ipod but on the hard disk. And as you mention below, it is not  
only files bought online that you can manage with itunes, but free  
podcasts (NPR for ex) or many other kinds of files, including of  
course the hundreds of CDs a lot of people already own. So there is  
no direct relation between itunes/legally downloaded files/ipod.

The 600 million tunes bought (and much much more if you include _all_  
the legally downloaded files that are available at no cost) are to be  
seen not directly in relation to the number of sold ipods but to the  
number of tunes bought through other systems over the same time  
period. I don't know the figures. Besides for the fact that some  
peole buy music to make personal CDs and don't have to get an ipod to  
listen to them.

Now what about the tie-in ? Either you have an itunes-ipod system and  
you know how easy and consistent it is to get something to work , or  
you don't and then you compare lemons to journalistic buzz.

> about 250 songs apiece). But taking the figure at face value, what  
> does
> this mean about iTunes' share of songs on the average iPod user's
> player? It is a miniscule 4%.

A minuscule 4% that generated 600 million bucks, and even more if you  
consider that songs are slightly more expensive in Japan. Plus the  
fact that itunes locks the files into an itunes-ipod relationship for  
most of the users.

You only consider the simplistic equation: nb of songs bought / nb of  
ipods. What matters here, and I doubt anybody will ever be able to  
get meaningful figures, is that Apple has managed (even more so with  
the video ipod) to offer an integrated media "solution" (sorry for  
the buzz word) that _also_ includes internet and office  
"productivity" tools. And they can do that in a consistent way  
because, unlike Sony and other music businesses, they control the  
hardware, the software, the operating system and the money making  

> But as it turns out the pay-for-play revolution is just a little less
> sweeping than we'd been led to believe.

Give us numbers for Sony and other companies that offer similar  
products and compare. It is not the pay-for-play revolution that is  
questioned here, it is the fact that a new player has entered the  
market with an integrated solution and that, as was the case in  
Japan, even when the service was not tied to major music players  
(Sony refused to be sold through itunes at first) it totally wiped  
out the competing services (in that specific case, Sony's online  
offer) which led Sony to later accept Apple's offer.

So the revolution is to be seen _within_ that particular market  
(which in the case of Apple also stimulates other markets where it is  
a player too, unlike Sony since Vaios, or Sony's mp3 players are not  
necessary to play music downloaded throught Sony's music services,  
afaik) and not in absolute terms like you are trying to do.

Jean-Christophe Helary

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