iTunes Whacks File-Sharing Networks

by Preston Gralla

Remember when file-sharing networks were going to End Civilization As We Know It?

The entire music industry would fold because people would stop buying CDs, and would never pay to download music. Book publishing would follow suit. The barbarians were at the gates, and they were wielding civilization-busting tools like Napster and Kazaa.

Well, our civilization still seems to be standing somehow --- and word just came out that iTunes is more popular than file-sharing networks such as Kazaa and iMesh, and is in a dead heat with LimeWire. Of the top ten music downloading services, three were for-pay --- iTunes, Napster and RealPlayer Store.

This proves what I've said all along: If people are given a way to easily download and pay for music, they'll do that, and forgo file-sharing networks.

Expect iTunes to become even more popular, and other for-pay music services to move up the list as well. And once the music industry finally embraces for-pay downloads --- something they haven't yet done enthusiastically --- for-pay services will dominate. Ultimately, that will become the main method of distributing music.

Ideally, rather than having to run different clients for different music services, there would be one piece of software that interacts with all of them. Windows Media Player would be the logical choice for this. But Windows Media Player is a sloppy kludge. It's fine for playing online videos. But as a music player and manager it's a pretty awful piece of work.

Here's hoping that even more for-pay music services take root, and that someone can write a simple client for accessing them all.

What do you think about iTunes and file-sharing networks?