Convergence

by Jason Deraleau

Come Together....



Convergence. Remember when the big buzz word was convergence? Of course, back then it meant that your digital toolbox would gradually shrink to just a set of Swiss Army knife-like devices. Yes, your toaster would finally be able to communicate with your coffee maker and your alarm clock to prepare your morning breakfast. Well, despite the usual IT industry fluff, the real definition merely involves the concept of multiple things coming together.



Mac rumor sites work the same way. At first, it's a series of unrefined whispers and gossip. Slowly, these hints and gossip take form and solidify into genuine rumors. The result is that the rumor sites converge on an agreed set of hearsay. If you haven't been paying attention (which would mean that you weren't listening to me), the latest buzz is about an Apple music service.


Loose Lips Sink Ships



So at first we just had whispers of a music service. Then the details started to fill in. Major players started to say too much. I imagine the Mercurial One took anger at this, but what can you do? A deal this big would have to involve a good number of people.



In case you're still in the dark, Apple is rumored... okay, let's face it, Apple is /going/ to be debuting an online music service. The "facts" thus far point to a service which is of high-quality design and simplicity of use. The service is going to have music from the five major recording labels. Apple's been in talks with the various record execs and has secured the necessary rights to distribute the music.



Additional details involve the use of AAC for the audio format and tight integration with the Apple Store's 1-Click (R) sales system. If you've never used it, take a look at iPhoto. iPhoto's print and book ordering system uses 1-Click to simplify payment. Your credit card information is stored on Apple's systems (both pros and cons from a security standpoint) and gets billed for each transaction.


iCame for the iMusic, iStayed for the iPod



Alongside the release of the music service (and a requisite iTunes update to support the service), rumors point to a new iPod. The rumor site Think Secret reports that these will be 15GB and 30GB units with a new docking station. No thoughts on FireWire 800, but apparently USB 2.0 is going to be thrown in there somehow.



I imagine that to play AAC, an iPod will need a firmware update at the very least. Hopefully Apple won't alienate its current iPod owners by requiring a new unit to work with the service. Something like that would cripple the debut of the service. They need to build on the success of the iPod, not try to force it to happen all over again.


Music to Our Ears



The big event is said to be this coming Monday, the 28th. Hopefully there will be 10-20 free downloads to whet our appetites. Beyond that, it seems the downloads will be $1 a piece, with little to no control of the resulting file to be imposed upon the consumer. I'm crossing my fingers for that MWNY2002 Rendezvous enabled iTunes, too. Looking forward...



Are we on the verge of Apple reinventing the music industry?


7 Comments

anonymous2
2003-04-26 13:30:40
USB 2.0 - Dongle
The rumor is that USB 2.0 support will be via a dongle/cable-adapter--meaning: FireWire<->USB 2.0 . Supposedly, however, the catch is that one will not be able to charge the iPod while using the adapter, which makes sense considering USB's lack of significant power-over-cable. So, you might be able to use the USB 2.0, but then you'd have to plug the iPod into its FireWire power adapter for a charge....


... at least, that's the rumor.

anonymous2
2003-04-26 18:33:49
Restrictions
You will be restricted by the number of times you can email the file, and the number of times you can burn it or copy it elsewhere... I imagine this would be handled via iTunes...?
...and that there will be all sorts of workarounds.


My gut is Apple will do the "right thing" by the studios, but won't be heavyhanded about it. So those determined enought will be able to circumvent it.


(As an example... by default, you can't copy songs OFF the iPod. Yet, there are dozens of third-party apps that help you deal with that.)

anonymous2
2003-04-26 19:41:10
AAC on iPod
I see this all the time. "iPods/iTunes can't play AAC files".


Actually, the audiobook files from http://www.audible.com are all in AAC format and play just fine from both iTunes and my iPod and have done so for several months now.


Why does this meme persist? Am I missing something here?

invalidname
2003-04-28 05:10:17
AAC on iPod
Huh, that's intersting. I used QuickTime Player to convert an audio CD track to AAC, put it in my iTunes library, but when I sync'ed the iPod, I got the error "Some songs were not copied to the iPod because they are in a format the iPod cannot play."


Perhaps the audible files are going in some back-door, perhaps only certain bitrates are supported, or perhaps a new iTunes update is going to make AAC more of a first class citizen, eg, allowing you to do the AAC rip in iTunes itself (which, at least as of this morning, only rips as MP3, WAV, or AIFF).


--invalidname

drm
2003-04-28 06:35:21
1-Click isn't just in iPhoto...
...remember ? Apple licensed it from Amazon :-)


Not that there's anything wrong with that of course.

anonymous2
2003-04-28 07:20:04
I can accept that
Thanks for a useful answer!
anonymous2
2003-05-02 21:42:03
AAC on iPod
How about .AAC files on Ipod syncing to Windows? Anyone have a hack to get around the fact that Musicmatch can't handle .AACs?