Om Malik, a smart guy who I often agree with, writes that Yahoo Music is “playing in mono” because, “…it works only on Windows XP, it works with about a dozen music players, and doesn’t support Mac. In music industry parlance, this is an EP, not the full album!”
Now let’s think about this, acknowledging that Yahoo!, like every other organization on the planet, has a laundry list of services it would like to build, and only so much capacity to do so…
1. XP only: So Om, are you advising Yahoo to spend finite resources to build a rich client for people you haven’t upgraded their OS in 10 years (Windows 95) or 7 years (Windows 98)? BTW, if you look at the product page, you’ll see Win2K is listed as supported…
2. Supported players: You’re right! Yahoo’s offering supports more vendors, more devices, and more device types than Apple’s offering (did I mention I have an iPod Mini that I can’t wait to toss?). And, since it’s based on MSFT’s PlayForSure standard, which is open unlike Apple’s walled garden, the list will continue to grow.
3. No Mac support: Well, yeah. Why build something (at launch) for a sliver of the (OS) market, with a fiercly entrenched competitor and audience? And if you’ve used iTunes on a Windows machine, you know it doesn’t look, feel or act like a native app (heck, it makes Tiger look speedy).
As for the market reaction, perhaps it’s worth looking at this a different way.
1. Yet another major player, with a lot of reach and a fair bit of marketing savvy, has joined the “anti-Apple” consortium. Apple has a history of trying to take on the mass that is Wintel, and that history isn’t marked by monumental success.
2. Napster, $170MM war chest notwithstanding, is looking like a little fish in a really big pond
3. It’s already known that Yahoo is working on co-branded/branded consumer hardware offerings (though I’d agree that there’s reason to be skeptical on this front); co-branded or not, a (well integrated) bundled offering (ala iPod/iTunes) in time for the holidays seems like a real possibility
4. The barriers to entry are quite low; the barriers to “doing it well” are much higher, but it’s not clear that Apple remains advantaged as dedicated music players give way to converged media devices and smart/cell phones. Said another way, there’s a lot of mutation happening, and it’s not clear that a single stack (Apple) can be out in front of it all.