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Playing Catchup With iTunes
Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 at 12:30 PM - by
On Monday, Ethan Smith at the Wall Street Journal analyzed the competition to Apple's iTunes in an in-depth article: Can Anybody Catch iTunes? [Subscription required.] Mr. Smith's survey of Emusic, Yahoo Music, Napster, RealNetworks, and Microsoft revealed how each company is avoiding a head-on confrontation with market leader Apple, taking an indirect approach, and trying to find small holes in the successful iTunes strategy.
Mr. Smith explained how Emusic is doing well because theirs is the only service compatible with the Apple iPod. Yahoo is going after customers who have been reluctant to engage in pay-for-music services in the past. Napster is concentrating on the "music wants to be free" slogan, leveraging their heritage, and also working ambitiously to convert their base into paying customers. RealNetworks is working on improving the hardware integration with partner SanDisk. Microsoft is focusing on one of the social aspects of music.
This is an excellent survey of the competition. While Mr. Smith didn't make any predictions or come to any conclusions, he showed how each competitor is trying to avoid a head-on approach and, instead, carve out a market niche for themselves.
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