EMI Deal as a Shot in AAC/WMA/MP3 Standard War? Really?

by Chris Adamson

BusinessWeek argues that the Apple/EMI DRM-free tunes deal is a huge boost for AAC as a standard. Is it that simple?


9 Comments

Onkel Ringelhuth
2007-04-07 05:36:59
For commercial music vendors, AAC's got to be the format of choice: licensing MP3 will cost you 2% of revenues; AAC not a bean.

2007-04-07 06:00:20
>It's hard to see the point of the iTunes Store in this world, save for Apple's graceful handling of >the user experience, which many users will probably be loath to give up.
Bingo. With something like an average of 30 tracks per user, the iTunes store isn't really that significant to the iPod's success. The iTunes software is the key.


>in a world of DRM-free formats, there's no reason the various online music stores couldn't use a >variety of formats, and probably would support WMA in order to support devices that support it >and not AAC.


As the first comment says, the thing in AACs advantage is that it's 'free', and if competition hots up, the margins are going to become important.


The second thing is, even if the cost is nominal, encoding and storing millions of tracks in 3 formats is still a cost. So long as it justifies itself in making money, it will happen. But historically, format wars do tend to settle on one format. Admittedly the cost is marginal compared to stocking VHS and Beta, or cassette, vinyl and CD.


We should also remember that almost all players on the market have upgradable firmware, meaning AAC support could be added to existing players. On the other hand, the likes of Creative don't really have an interest in extending the lifespan of hardware they've already sold.

Master William
2007-04-07 06:33:08
Ogg Vorbis. The nerds couldnt think of a worse name could they. It was just destined to fail.


Michael
2007-04-07 06:52:43
"Hesseldahl presumably thinks the DRM-free AAC's and the momentum of the iTunes Store will be a strong incentive for all players to support AAC, and that may come to pass."


I'd say that's the nub of the matter. I suspect many online stores dealing with EMI's catalogue will initially do MP3 but go the whole hog on the bitrate: 320kbps MP3. That's what I expect; and, indeed, that seems to be what the first "store" out the gate is doing. I'm referring to the pop band "The Good, the Bad, and the Queen", who are in EMI's stable, and who are the first to offer DRM-free EMI content - which they're doing off their own site:


http://www.thegoodthebadandthequeen.com/


But in the long run, I think Hesseldahl, as summarized by Chris, is probably right. Many people will be buying content at the iTunes Store, and makers of DAPs will aware of that. As it is, the Zune is capable of playing AAC. One can be sure that MS would rather not support MPEG formats and the reason for that is that it knows many people have ripped their CDs into AAC in iTunes and are not about to abandon their music libraries.


The deal doesn't won't make AAC triumphant overnight, but I've got to think it strengthens it.

Zac
2007-04-07 08:04:57
While I think it would be foolhardy to assume a standard as ubiquitous as MP3 will go anywhere anytime soon, the iTunes store does cut an extremely dominating figure, some 85% of the market, more dominant than the iPod itself. It is only logical that other music player manufacturers are going to want a piece of that pie now that they can get it. Aside from that, AAC is more technically capable than MP3 and apparently has no licensing fees. Down the road that may end up being a really compelling package, but this is definitely way too early to call.
bilogic
2007-04-07 10:07:52
If the music industry really want to bounce back in a DRM free world they should from now decide to stick with the AAC based on the MPEG4 format of the MPEG (Motion Picture Expert Group). MP3 is an old format based on the MPEG2 and the patents are not clear. MPGEG, the name tell already that this is an expert group. WMA is a typical Microft effort to force a lousy and inferior standard thru the throat of innocent user in their never ending effort to dominate the world of computers and PC. WMA should be completly abolished.
Gazzer
2007-04-07 13:19:49
The standards war between MP3 and AAC is analagous to GIF vs. jpg. In other words it's basically meaningless. It's trivial to make a player support any kind of file that plays music. It's not like when you sawed an inch off one side of your VHS tape to get it to fit in your Betamax player only to discover that Betamax didn't support VHS tapes with their guts hanging out. Manufacturers will simply make players that support different formats and vendors will simply supply the format that is cheapest, patent unencumbered and has decent quality. This will probably mean AAC but could mean OGG in the long term.

2007-10-09 00:17:10
they're all a bunch of money-hungry crooks i say.

2007-10-09 00:28:15
the problem is people don't demand better. people buy dirt if u sell it right. how else do you explain the success of the iPod--the wool over the eyes of consumers who r sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for tech companies to give them their Jones of new technology. I personally am boycotting iPods. The money mongers will continue to lease songs (yes LEASE--you don't own a song if you can't do to it as you please, wake up!), while the music industry gets more and more pathetic and people will continue to consume in record quantities. SH(L)EEP