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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Is Apple holding back music?


We all know how Apple got its second wind from the iPod and iTunes music sales and a third from the Iphone.  But it seems Apple has, with the passing of Jobs, stagnated there when it comes to music. Yes, they have evolved, the Apple way of doing things, back into computers, and expanded into new territories from phones, home automation, to TV boxes, and even cars.  


Apple still has iTunes and not much has changed on the music front.  Mp3's are based on technology from 1992 and Apple opted for the mp4, which is based on technology from 1997.(S)  Yes, nearly two decade old technology is the basis around the core of Apple's revenue.


A lot of factors went into the development of those audio formats.  Consider the state of the internet in 1993 and 1997.  With dial up speeds and hard disk capacities, space was valuable in storage and data transmission.  Now consider the technologies annual advancement rate then multiply that by 18 years.  Average cable speeds are 10-50 Mbps (lowest in my area is 60 Mbps), and even DSL can, in a perfect world, achieve 6 Mbps. In today's market, data storage is measured mostly in Terabytes for laptops.  So why is Apple not advancing music by ditching lossy compression?


Lack of innovation. Since Jobs died, there has been a more timid approach to innovation. And by “timid”, I mean an aversion rivaled only by the Catholic churches abhorrence to contraception and suicide. They have chosen not to innovate and merely follow Google.  Apple dabbled in TVs then dropped them for the Apple TV boxes.  They waited until just about every other phone manufacturer had screens larger than four inches to release a larger screen.  Even with the small screens they never seemed to understand the importance of large capacity batteries.   






Now the most recent release of the iWatch. It has some features that sound cool, but have little functionality in the real world. Once again, early reports show a failure in the battery department only offering around 5 hours of life that isn't even a full 8 hour work day.  Then there is the user interface.  I don't see the older generation even attempting to use the watch.  Not to mention, the fashion angle they are taking.  Now the announcement of building a self driving car from scratch.  Once again following Google.  They need to reignite their core markets (iTunes and iPhone).


Why not release high quality audio files, players and similar equipment? Apple needs to get back to its roots.  Consider the ripple it would make in both of Apple’s core markets. There isn't a phone on the market designed to play high end music files.  Heck most devices can't recognize FLAC formats in favor of their ALAC made open source in 2011.  Apple bought Beats by Dre, so the headphones would tie in magnificently.  They have a distribution system.  It would give people another reason to buy phones and experience music instead of just listening.  


But what do I know.  In case you are wondering, I really like technology, but I am not an Apple fan-boy.  This is all my opinion, and when Apple wastes a small portion of $500+ billion maybe they will see. Or it could come back to its core under new leadership with Job’s vision and turn things around for the music industry.  The only problem being, high quality audio is already out there and audiophiles have made its distributors a lot of money.  Could Pono be the next Ipod?


What do you think Apple should do next? Is “HD” audio a good idea?  



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