Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Apple's strategy: iTunes

With their latest Apple TV product, Apple's strategy is becoming ever clearer: tie everyone to iTunes.

Want to synch your iPod or iPhone? Use iTunes. Purchase new music? Use iTunes. Rent movies? Display photos on your TV? Store your calender, address book and notes? iTunes is Apple's answer to every question about content.

This unsettles me. Apple's customers are tying all their data into a proprietary, closed client application. You might be able now to import Flickr photos into iTunes, but what are your chances of ever exporting them back?

At a time when openness is not just a buzzphrase, but a basic principle of many in Silicon Valley, Apple are probably the only major company still seriously trying to build a walled garden. They truly do 'think differently'!

I personally hope their iTunes strategy doesn't succeed. Their fabulous hardware and awesome user interfaces - in particular, the iPod Touch - are beguiling users into data hell.

Companies like Yahoo and Amazon have a massive opportunity to build a competing stack, based in the browser using open technologies such as HTML, RSS, and even the forthcoming HTML5 audio and video elements. Ironically, these very technologies have superb support in Safari, Apple's browser.

With iTunes, Apple are betting against the web. Time will tell whether this strategy works.


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