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Expectations of a Closed Environment


Expectations of a Closed Environment

One commenter questioned my statement: "How will people become accustomed to a digital world in which you have to rebuy all of your software players and music catalog whenever a better format, player, or service comes out?" Yes, people have had to shift formats over time, but I think there are three countervailing factors at work here 1. First, the old barriers don't apply in the same way now. Bits are bits. You can't upgrade a tape player to play CDs. You can (theoretically) upgrade the firmware on your MP3/CD player to also play AAC. You can't turn your tape into a CD. You can (theoretically) convert your MP3 into AAC to play it on a compatible player.

2. That said, I think people will only tolerate circumstances in which they actually get an improved sound quality, like moving from tape to CD. Sure, if a new codec came around that sounded a lot better than MP3, people might rebuy their entire catalog. But, unlike in the analog world, they wouldn't necessarily have to do so to make use of a new player - they wouldn't have to have one player for MP3 and one for New-Codec - they wouldn't have to choose between Beta and VHS.

3. Given that people are used to a world in which MP3 is ubiquitous, there is little reason for them to shift laterally to a codec linked to a proprietary DRM format. I don't see people becoming accustomed to the walls between iTunes, Real, and WMA-based services and players.

Posted by Derek Slater on 2/4/04; 12:22:43 AM from the General news dept. #