Yahoo Music

Here is why Yahoo Music is cool. Yes I work for MSN, and sure I wish MSN Music had this same feature, but I'm super excited that Yahoo Music launched their business. Why? THEY ARE BUILT ON OUR PLATFORM! Let me explain.

A few months ago I wrote this post about Technology Camps. Let me point out my favorite paragraph:

"Now contrast this to Microsoft. For the past few years the focus has been on building a world class platform. From the codec's, to the encoding technology, to the protocol for moving bits from the computer to the device, to the encryption technology, policy enforcement of digital rights, and servers to manage those rights it's all been spec'ed and delivered in a manner that any software developer can utilize. You can create your own Music Store and sell content to anyone with a compatible device. You can build a device that can play rich video and audio. You can build software that can manipulate that music, and organize it for users, or even a new shell that can present that media to the user who is sitting on their couch and interacts via a remote control. You can even buy a cell phone that can consume these media files! Talk about a rich eco system. But that's what it is; a platform for anyone with a desire to build on. Microsoft participates in this eco system via the MSN Music Store, and other various properties, but we do not dictate how much you will pay, and what device you will use. We give you choice, and history has shown time and time again, that choice is always more powerful. Choice and flexibility always wins. Consumers want choice."

A bunch of people made some very valid comments about my perspective on how this all relates to Apple regarding Choice. I'm not going to disagree with them. However, this is so utterly cool because Yahoo was able to build and bring to market their own music store that leverages our platform end to end.

  1. Microsoft Technology for encoding and DRM

  2. Microsoft WMA 192 KBps 2-Pass CBR Encoded files (iTunes is STILL 128KBps AAC)

  3. Janus to deliver subscription audio to PlaysForSure Compatible devices

  4. Sync to those devices via Media Transport Protocol

And they offer this all for the cost of 3-4 music CDs a year with access to their entire Music collection. They are far cheaper than Napster-To-Go which I complained as being to expensive and buggy for my tastes.

Now how much do you want to bet that Apple is going to eventually have to offer subscriptions? I bet that the reason they have not yet done so is because Steve doesn't believe it makes sense.

"Steve Jobs, has dismissed the idea of subscription-based services, saying people want to own their music"

I'm not so sure about that. Me thinks that Apple is going down the exact same path with the iPod as they did with a Mac. They have build a phenomenally successful and wonderful CLOSED ecosystem. Just like the Mac. And we all know what happened there.

Yahoo does things that have potential positive revenue impact. They did not have to spend their resources building a platform, delivery mechanism, tools, services and whatnot to make this happen. They had to licence content, create a user experience and launch it. Anyone can do this.

My iPod is an island. My Creative Zen Micro just had a new bridge built to Yahoo that gives me access to a million songs for 5 bucks a month. Apple isn't competing with Microsoft, they are competing with potentially dozens of companies, and now a big internet media powerhouse.

How do you like them Apples?

Comments (8)
  1. Nektar says:

    Choice is very important as you say and that is why I believe that Microsoft’s system, although better than the competition, suffers from the fact that it is a Windows only system. To deploy a music store you need to run Windows Servers. To listen to music with drm you need to have a pc running Windows. Other operating systems, although admitedly much less popular than Windows, should have been "allowed" to support drm. Not only Windows, but for Janus to work, you must be running a specific version of Windows, Windows XP. Previous versions do not support Windows Media Player 10. What about Windows Media Player for the Mac, does it support Janus? What about users on other Unix-based operating systems? So much for choice.

    If Windows Media and its drm is to be the universal platform for delivering music online, then it should have been more permisive regarding the platform it can run on. To achieve this I think that Microsoft should have put Windows Media DRM up for standardization. This would not have prevented Microsoft from collecting licensing fees from its use. However, it would not have forced software customers and music consumers to use Windows, something that it indirectly and even directly requires today. Yes, Windows Media Platform is a more "open" island than that proposed by Apple, but is it still that much different? Yes, I know, anyone can license it but on portable devices only, not on desktop or server operating systems. In any case, the same is true for MPEG4. It can be licensed.

    So why is Windows Media more popular and so was used by companies like Yahoo!. Not because of more choice to consumers but:

    1. Its media codecs cost less than the competition,

    2. It offers licensible drm for portable devices something that the competition does not and its drm is also guaranteed to be present in the most popular pc operating system, Windows XP and

    3. Most importantly it offers an integrated solution for a company like Yahoo! to use without having to build their own solution. However rest assured that if there was an interoperable standards-based solution it would have been used instead.

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