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Apple
 
The Coming Album Format War Between Apple and The Recording Labels
 
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By: Spacelab RE:search Staff

Finally! The bigger recording labels have realized that one way to fight free individual song downloads is to bring more to the table! Hindsight might be 20/20, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that one way to fight free, unauthorized song downloads is to innovate on the traditional album format (a relic left over from the creation of the vinyl record), and bring it into the digital age.

 

The new format would offer interactive booklets, videos, liner notes, photos, and lyrics as a complete package.

 

Although it's completely speculative at this point, it looks as if talks with Apple, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Sony and EMI had been happening. But that's where the happy koombyah moment ends, and the competition begins. A report last week in The Times reports that the talks fell apart, and the labels are working collectively on their own format called CMX. Apple is still creating their own version, code-named Cocktail, and is rumored to launch as early as September.

 

Pioneering new formats is Apple's lifeblood, so it should be interesting to see how this competition plays out. My guess is that Apple will focus on the user experince, putting into perspective how people will want use this, and what would be exciting as a new format. There's been talk of it coming together on a tablet-sized computer, which would reinforce Apple's ecosystem approach of combining software and hardware purchases and managing them through iTunes. Another variation could see Apple using its "iPhone App" concept.

 

Various real names like iPad and MacBook Touch have also been sprung online. The MacBook Touch looks like a radical mashup of a tablet, laptop computer, and oversized iPhone, that bends in half, allowing you to use it as a tablet, laptop, or visual display. All very interesting. Throw a 3G connection into the mix, and you can connect to the web anywhere you could use a mobile phone, with pretty good download speed.

 

Also throw into the mix that everybody seems to be talking about the Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster's mention on Friday that the this could set the industry on edge with Apple selling potentially $1.2 billion worth of these babies and you've got a revolution on your hands.

 

“Last week we spoke with an Asian component supplier that has received orders from Apple for a touch-screen device to be fulfilled by late 09. This data point underscores our thesis that a tablet will likely launch in early [2010],” he wrote in a report.

 

I'll also guess that the big recording labels will focus on what will benefit the labels the most, considering things like 'maximizing profit potential' and 'leveraging synergistic business relationships' and generally bland considerations that focus on the business end, not the consumer. The more things change, the more they stay the same, see? The label's version will focus around an online presence, and be used on both computers and mobile phones.

 

This could be exciting to watch this play out the rest of the year. The album format has had relatively little innovation around it for decades (barring the adventerous few who tried to reach farther), so bringing it up to date is long overdue.


 

Tags: Apple

 
 
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