我写作的理由“Parlay的艺术” — revisiting the conventional wisdom surrounding Apple’s mid-’80s decision not to license the Macintosh — is that current events have made the topic relevant.

Those current events, of course, are related to the Apple music platform: the iPod, iTunes, and iTMS.

The relevance to Apple’s 20-year-old licensing decisions is that nearly every mainstream media pundit who opens his mouth about the iPod — especially in the wake of RealNetworks’和谐公告— has decided that Apple is, all together now,making the same mistake with the iPod that they made with the Macintosh.

I.e., that Apple didn’t license the Macintosh, Microsoft did license their operating systems, and that’s why Microsoft won and Apple lostAnd now Apple is doing the same thing with the iPod and the iTMS.

我在这里告诉你,这完全是下铺Apple’s position with the iPod is significantly different — and much stronger — than their position with Macintosh 20 years agoThere are admittedly a few similarities, first and foremost of which is that both products are much better designed than any competing productSecond, uh, they both use 12-point Chicago as the system font(Except for the Mini, which uses Espy Sans, the Newton’s system font.)

The gist of my parlay argument is that the biggest difference between Apple and Microsoft — and the biggest reason for Microsoft’s lucrative monopolies in operating systems and office software — is that Microsoft built upon their previous successes, and Apple did notWindows parlayed off MS-DOS, and Office parlayed off WindowsThe Macintosh didn’t parlay off anything.

One potentially unsettling consequence of looking at the old Mac-vs.-Windows debate in light of this parlay theory — at least for those whose Mac enthusiasm borders on religious fervor — is that it leads one to revisit additional nuggets of conventional wisdom例如the idea that the Mac-vs.-Windows competition is an example proving that the better product doesn’t always win (often mentioned alongside Betamax-vs.-VHS as a canonical example).

the Mac “better” than Windows? Better designed, yesNo question.但还有其他指标而不是设计。One being compatibilityAnd in terms of compatibility, DOS/Windows was better than the Mac.

Microsoft looked at the PC market and asked, “How can we make the most money?” Their answer was to sell software to the business market, because that’s where the money isPure pragmatism: corporations are conservative, change slowly, and hold compatibility (and low prices) in high regard.

Apple looked at the PC market and asked, “How can we make something better than everything out there?” Their answer was the Macintosh纯粹的理想主义。

The Mac competed solely on the basis of the quality of its design. DOS/Windows competed on the basis of being compatible with what was already out there (and being cheaper (a factor that’s probably too important to be stuffed into a parenthetical))Compatible with existing x86 PC hardware与现有PC外围设备兼容And most importantly, compatible with existing software and software development techniques.

The result is that the Mac ended up appealing only to the segment of the market that values design over compatibilityFive to ten percent of the overall PC market is probably about rightEspecially since in the Mac’s case, it was design at the费用of compatibility — there was no way both to remain compatible with the DOS/Apple-II state-of-the-art and produce something insanely great.

Apple Music Platform和Parlay

So the gist of the current punditry’s iPod-as-Mac analogy boils down to this:Apple makes something cool, but then they keep it to themselves, and then they lose the market to a knock-off from Microsoft that gets licensed to other manufacturers.

But if you’re with me in my parlay argument, you can see just how much stronger Apple’s position with the iPod is.Apple’s entire music platform is a pure parlay:

  • The iPod, iTunes, and iTMS work with any modern personal computer, Windows or MacYes, the original iPod debuted as a Mac-only peripheral, and iTunes for Windows appeared even later — but Apple offered complete support for Windows relatively quickly.

  • The iPod and iTunes are fully compatible with your existing CD and MP3 music collections.

The first point — Apple’s full support for Windows — has led some to speculate, foolishly, that it’s a sign that Apple is moving away from the Mac.他们将把Mac转移到制造消费类电子产品!Possible, of course, but highly unlikely given that the Mac is still the main source of Apple’s revenue and profitsThe more obvious, but boring explanation is that Apple’s support for Windows is purely pragmatic: most people use Windows, and Apple wants Windows users to buy iPods.

Ideally, yes, Apple would also like them to replace their Wintel PCs with MacsIf Apple were still purely idealistic, they’d treat the iPod as a Mac peripheral.You want an iPod? Buy a Mac.(This was, in fact, the stated reason behind the original iPod’s Mac-only compatibilityBut in hindsight, it seems plausible that it was simply part of a staged plan: ship it for the Mac first and see how it goes; if there’s demand, release a version for Windows.)

The second point — Apple’s full support for MP3 and other non-protected audio formats — is curiously and significantly underemphasized in the mainstream media, especially in coverage of the recent RealNetworks brouhaha例如,参见Saul Hansell’s report for the The New York Times打破了RealNetworks / Harmony的故事(重点补充):

Tomorrow, without Apple’s authorization, RealNetworks will start to give away software that will allow people to buy and download songs from its online music store and then play them on Apple’s popular iPod portable devices in addition to those that use the Windows Media Player format and RealNetworks’ Helix format.

This will be the first time any company other than Apple has sold songs for the iPod.While the Microsoft Corporation has freely licensed the Windows format to various music stores and makers of portable players, Apple has kept its business proprietary.

To their credit, the Times ran a correction two days later, and appended it to the bottom of the original article’s web page:

An article in Business Day on Monday about plans by RealNetworks to give away software that will let people download songs from its online music store and play them on Apple’s iPod referred imprecisely to other sources of songs for the playerWhile RealNetworks will be the first besides Apple to sell them in the protected iPod format, other companies sell them in the MP3 format, which the player can also use.

But even this correction ignores the fact the iPod is compatible with songs ripped from CDs — which means the iPod is compatible with the vast majority of the music people already own如在法律上拥有。

iPod的唯一专有方面是保护audio formats, a.k.aDRMThe songs Apple sells through the iTunes Music Store are protected using Apple’s own FairPlay DRM system; and it’s the one and only DRM system Apple supports.

But for all the publicity and attention the iTMS has garnered, it’s essential to put it in perspectiveApple has now sold just over 100 millions songs through the iTMS但是有多少数十亿of songs do iPod users already own, legally and legitimately ripped from CD?

这不是隐藏的功能它没有诀窍Apple exerted itself to make it as easy as possible to transfer your music from CDs to your iPodYou put an audio CD in your computer; you click one button in iTunes; you connect your iPod.

那是兼容性If you enjoy music enough to consider buying a $300 iPod, there’s a good chance you have a CD collection numbering in the hundreds成千上万的歌曲,花费数千美元The iPod and iTunes fully embrace your existing music collection.

Already have music in MP3 format, from sources unknown? The iPod and iTunes will play them, no questions askedThat’s compatibility.


Point being, for all the attention it gets, the iTMS is a completely optional part of the iPod experienceYou can buy an iPod and completely fill it with music without spending a single dollar at the iTMS.

In short, the issue of compatibility — and of parlaying a new platform off existing, successful platforms — is an enormous difference between the iPod and ’80s-era Macintosh.

The Macintosh was an incompatible hardware platform that required incompatible software.

iPod与现有PC和Mac硬件兼容iTunes is compatible with both Windows and MacsAnd most importantly, they’re both compatible with the billions of CDs people already own.


RealNetworks’ battle cry in the Harmony debate is “Choice!” Consumers demand and deserve “choice”, and despotic Apple isn’t offering it to them. (Microsoft has also played the “choice” card — cf去年 ”Closed Is Open”Look for Microsoft to reiterate the “choice” angle when their own music store platform launches.)

But when RealNetworks whines about choice, they’re only talking about choice between rival DRM platformsAnd it’s true that Apple denies iPod owners this choice.

But what Apple provides is a larger and more important choice: the choice not to use DRM protected audio at all.

和谐是将帮助Apple销售更多iPodHarmony is simply an attempt by RealNetworks to sell songs to iPod usersThere’s no shame in that — but no benefit to Apple, either.

One argument is that Harmony appeals to people who are concerned about DRM lock-inI.e., if you spend your money on music at the iTMS, what happens if in a year or two you decide to buy a music player from another company? Holy shit, you’re locked-in!

这是如此荒谬,很难看出有人为此堕落DRM lock-in is indeed a serious issue — but the people who are concerned about lock-in aren’t going to trust RealNetworks (or Microsoft) any more than they trust Apple他们打算购买非DRM音乐,which the iPod already embraces

Plus, Apple allows you to burn your iTMS songs to good old-fashioned unprotected CDs — which you can then import for use on non-Apple music playersA pain in the ass? A bit但与法西斯锁定相去甚远。

The other argument trotted out by RealNetworks and its supporters is that they’re selling higher-quality audio files than Apple — Real’s songs are encoded at 192 Kbps, Apple’s at 128But this is not so simple an issue as higher quality being better — otherwise we’d all be using lossless encoding formatsThere’s a space trade-off, which maybe isn’t so important to 40 GB iPod users, but is quite important indeed to 4 GB iPod Mini users.

And in the same way that those wary of DRM aren’t buying protected audio files from anyone, music connoisseurs who are bothered by Apple’s lossy compression aren’t going to be satisfied with Real’s compression, either, even if it is less lossy than Apple’s他们打算购买CD。


USA Today columnist Kevin Maney wrote about the RealNetworks/Apple dispute on August 3 (“Apple’s control-freak tendencies could crush iPod“)Not only did he get just about everything wrong, but along the way he hit every one of the clueless “Apple is repeating their Macintosh mistakes with the iPod” talking pointsIt’s worth examining point-by-point.


The past couple of years, Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs has gotten nothing but roses and kisses from the public and the media.

But a feud between Apple and RealNetworks over music downloads is exposing Jobs’ tragic flawAmazingly, he seems to be making the same devastating mistakes with the iPod that he made with the Mac 20 years ago.


Given the subject, it’s only fitting to put the situation to music, so here’s part of the story to the tune of the old hit美国派





不,它没有Mac决不主导了PC行业It peaked with a market share around 10 percent(Apple arguably “dominated” the PC industry in the early years of the Apple II, but not with the Mac.)



首先,乔布斯于1985年离开公司Second, don’t get me started on the licensing thing again.



The lessons of an incompatible hardware platform that never grew significant market share (Macintosh), applied to a highly-compatible hardware platform that’s maintained an overwhelming market share lead over all competitors for two years (iPod)应用它怎么样

The iPod has half the digital music player market, and iTunes sells 70% of all legitimate music downloadsJobs practically willed the digital music business into being[...]

But Jobs has blown it before — and, boy, does it look like he’s blowing it again.

When before has Steve Jobs been in charge of a platform with half the market? (Never.)

But around 1985, Jobs and his executives decided not to license Apple’s technology or operating system to any other companyApple希望完全控制It wanted to sell all the products itself它不想要竞争对手。

这听起来很险恶Another way to put it is that Apple was selling Macintoshes for very high profit margins, and wanted to keep those profits for itself这是公司做的事情。

This was a yawning opening for Microsoft, Intel and the PC. Since anyone could buy the licenses and components to make a Windows-based PC, that technology took wing.

So according to Maney’s timeframe here, Microsoft, Intel, and the PC didn’t take wing until 1985? Talk about revisionist historyMicrosoft and Intel were in fact both on the path to industry domination years before the Macintosh, and the Mac had little to no effect upon their vectors.

This year, Apple is left with less than 4% of the market for personal computers — basically a cult following.

Ah, yes, Apple’s “cult following” — every hack pundit’s favorite means of dismissing Apple entirely.The Mac only has four percent market share, and even that doesn’t count because it’s just a cult following.“Cult” implies irrationality.

More recently, Jobs has done for digital music what he once did for personal computing: He’s made it appealing to non-techies他的设计再一次确定了节奏No device is as good as the iPod; no software solution works better than iTunes.

关于iPod和iTunes,他是对的About the credit, he’s wrong — Jobs is the CEO, not the companyApple engineers designed and created the iPod and iTunes, not JobsI have no idea why hacks tend to conflate Apple (the company) and Jobs (the CEO)Would Maney write that Bill Gates released a new version of Windows?

但就像1985年的Mac一样,它是一个封闭的系统Other than open-source MP3 files, only music downloaded through iTunes will play on iPods, and iTunes music won’t play on any portable device except an iPod.

这里有一些不那么聪明的误导:If you ignore MP3 files, the iPod only plays Apple’s own proprietary iTMS songs.But that’s a little like arguing that if it weren’t for cash, you’d have to use credit cards for every purchase是的,但在那里现金And there are MP3s — billions of them, all compatible with the iPodAnd it’s not just MP3 files — the iPod also plays WAV and AAC files.

Recall that the iTMS didn’t even exist for the first two years of the iPod.

(It’s also worth pointing out that MP3 is not an “open source” format. The MP3 format is owned by Thomson, and companies like Apple must pay Thomson解码和编码MP3文件But why bother getting the details right when you’re writing for USA Today?)

Apple refuses to license the technology to third parties. Instead of setting a standard for all, Apple wants to own it all.

It’s almost as though they’re a for-profit corporation, attempting to maximize their revenue from a wildly popular product and service. Absurd.

When Microsoft behaves that way, everybody screams antitrust.

Perhaps that’s because Microsoft is a monopolist, and has been convicted of illegally abusing their monopoly positionsWith the iPod and iTunes, Apple is a market leader, but not a monopolist — thus anyone who described their licensing decisions as “antitrust” would be talking out of their ass或者,我想是为今日美国写作。

上周,Real公开曝光了苹果公司的顽固态度Real announced that it has a way for people to legally download and play songs that work on both Apple’s products and Windows-based products.

实际上,真实的和谐只要works for Windows-based products, because Harmony is only available for Windows如约翰C.Welch points out on his weblog: “‘Choice’ is defined as ‘You have to use Windows’In fact, from what I can tell, there is only one major music store that gives users on multiple platforms the access to the full range of its features… the iTMS.”

这是消费者想要的灵活性But Apple doesn’t seem to care.

What consumers? The ones buying iPods? The ones waiting to buy iPod Minis? Or just the ones who pull things out of their ass for USA Today?

A large part of the appeal of the iTMS is the “It Just Works” factor. Because it bypasses the browser and the concept of “downloading”, working instead entirely within iTunes itself, buying songs and getting them onto your iPod只是工作Somehow I doubt the user experience of the Walmart.com music store can match it.

“Consumers are not in the end going to put up with being locked in,” says Josh Bernoff, consumer tech analyst at Forrester Research.

So perhaps they’ll buy their music on CD, rip it to unprotected non-DRM audio formats, and play it on their… iPods?

Music has a long history of competing standards in new technology, but the split never lastsIn 1950, it was RCA Victor’s 45 rpm record vsColumbia’s 33, and eventually all record players accommodated bothIn 1970, it was Philips’ audio cassette vsthe eight-track — invented by William Powell Lear, who also created the LearjetThe eight-track soon disappeared.


Why not? They’re selling 70 percent of DRM-protected music nowAs Jobs has stated in interviews, if some other music store gains significant market share, Apple will consider supporting itBut for now, why share, other than to be charitable?

According to Maney and his ilk, Apple is doing everything wrong — but yet somehow they’ve got the number one music player and the number one online music store.


Even if you remain convinced that Apple “must” license its music platform, isn’t that exactly他们正在与惠普合作

That HP is on the cusp of releasing its own licensed version of the iPod — now, while the iPod is still the undisputed leader in both design and market share — is alone reason enough not to compare Apple’s position with the iPod to their position with the Mac 20 years ago.

It’s baffling that those criticizing Apple’s decision to spurn RealNetworks describe Apple as being unwilling to license their technology, when in fact they’ve done exactly that — partnering with a company that is much larger than Apple itself.

To insist that Apple ought to be thankful to RealNetworks and to allow their Harmony technology to work is to say that Apple should allow other companies to freeload.

With the HP deal, Apple will be earning licensing fees and has gained a partner with the second-largest PC market share and extensive retail sales presence — i.eApple stands to benefit directly from the deal. Whereas with RealNetworks’ Harmony, the only company that stands to gain anything is RealNetworks.

Yes, Apple makes way more money selling iPods than they do songs at the iTMS是的,苹果可能每首歌只卖10美分And, yes, Steve Jobs has stated that the iTMS is a loss-leader (“break-even-leader” is perhaps more apt) intended to sell more iPods.

争论如此,If the iTMS is just there to sell iPods, why not welcome another music store that supports the iPod?

It’s foolish to think that every public statement from Apple’s executives is the plain truth about their actual strategy.

The fact is, the market for DRM music is nascentIt remains to be seen whether任何DRM-protected media format will be a long-term success. The entertainment industry certainly hopes so; consumer advocates certainly hope not.

If consumers revolt against DRM, and protected media slowly fades into oblivion, Apple has lost nothingThe iPod and iTunes have embraced unprotected audio files from the beginning.

But assuming that DRM-protected media takes hold, history indicates that one format will dominate the industryThe three major contenders now are Apple, Microsoft, and RealNetworks — and it’s generous to put RealNetworks in the list.

Is it any wonder or surprise that Apple would like to be the company that wins?

It’s difficult to speculate on the long-term prospects for the iPod. Certainly it isn’t hard to imagine that 10 years out, a music player equivalent to today’s iPod might sell for $20 or $30iPods are either going to get a lot cheaper, or gain a lot more features或两者Either way, that’s uncertainty.

Establishing a de facto standard format for DRM audio, on the other hand, is the type of success that keeps on succeedingTen cents a song on 100 million songs is nice; sell a couple of billion songs, and you’re talking about a serious cash cowNot to mention the potential to parlay success with DRM audio into success with DRM视频

这并不是说我是受DRM保护的媒体的粉丝我不是But whether you like it or not, there’s a high-stakes competition going on to establish a de facto standard DRM format, and at the moment, Apple is winningThis game is far from over, and Apple’s going to be damned if they’re going to give RealNetworks or Microsoft a helping hand.