The Register’s Year In Digital Music [12:00 pm]
Digital downloads are here to stay, and 2005 will be characterised by more, bigger attempts to get mainstream buyers as well as natural P2P users to pay for downloading songs. Apple’s vertical model - own the hardware and the content supplier - is likely to remain pre-eminent, but only while it’s the hardware that leads the business. Microsoft’s PlaysForSure scheme may be able to unite disparate hardware vendors and content sellers into a whole that has the synergy of iPod and iTunes, but it seems unlikely. In Europe, losing the right to bundle Windows Media Player 10 with the OS may cost MS dear.
That said, the weight of WMA-based services, many from strong music-related brands, may cause the balance to shift from hardware to content. And the effect of video remains unclear: will video devices wrest consumers’ attention away from the iPod next Christmas? Or are portable media centres to become little more than the pocket TV of the 21st Century?