A Look At Janus [4:04 pm]
Microsoft’s iPod killer? (Slashdot discussion: Microsoft Preps ‘Janus’ Music Copy-Prevention Scheme)
Microsoft is expected to unveil copy-protection software this summer that will for the first time give portable digital music players access to tunes rented via all-you-can-eat subscription services–a development that some industry executives believe will shake up the online music business.
[...] Few online music subscription plans have enjoyed great success to date, but some music company executives said they believe Janus will make renting music more attractive to consumers and eventually give a la carte download services such as Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store a run for their money.
Device makers, too, see the software as a way to take on Apple and its industry-leading iPod player, which for now offers no support for rented music. Anticipating the Janus release, MP3 player makers including Samsung have already begun advertising support for the technology in a handful of high-end products.
[...] David Card, a digital media analyst with Jupiter Research, said he doesn’t expect Janus to drive dramatic growth in online music subscriptions, adding that it could take years for music rentals to challenge CD and download sales, if they ever do.
“I think this is good, but it’s not as if this is a silver bullet,” he said. “It is important in adding another feature to the ultimate goal of creating the ‘celestial jukebox,’ but it’s probably not going to jump-start the market.”
[...] Although Microsoft plans to get into the retail music market, its primary ambition is to be a technology provider and ultimately make its software the de facto industry standard for encoding and playing back digital media files–goals toward which the company could take a big step if subscription services based on Janus catch on.
Microsoft has worked hard to establish its Windows Media file formats in the industry and has won converts among record labels and music services. But it has struggled to win over consumers, having made relatively little headway against the dominant MP3 file format even as it has drawn antitrust scrutiny over its digital media plans.