DateTuesday 9 November 2004

Steve Wildstrom gets it wrong – unusually – on the iPod vs WMA

Steve Wildstrom over at BusinessWeek is generally reliable as hell; I find I’m always agreeing with what he says, and wishing I’d said it. Of course what he writes comes from an American perspective – they still don’t get mobile phones or Bluetooth, for example – but his hit rate is excellent.

Which is why I’m a little surprised by his latest column, The Music Mess: Advantage, Microsoft. He goes over the arguments we’ve heard before: that if you buy something from an online music store that’s not the iTunes Music Store, it won’t play on the iPod. And vice-versa.

Now, before I saw his piece I’d written my column for Wednesday’s paper on where I think the iPod is going. But just to deal with this argument: Yes, Apple has chosen an isolationist course. It supports only FairPlay in its products, and it has been unwilling to license other companies either to build FairPlay-enabled players or to sell FairPlay-protected songs.

One key difference: Apple really owns this market at the moment, and there’s little sign of others getting into it. For each song sold on other music stores, more than two are sold on iTunes. (It’s a 3:7 ratio.) For each non-iPod sold with a hard drive, nine iPods are rung up.

So saying that “Apple has chosen an isolationist course” is like saying Microsoft has chosen an isolationist course with Windows, because you can’t run .exes on Linux or OSX. It’s true, but lacks context.

Even so, Steve W is right on one point: Windows Media will get a growing share of the market. But he’s missing what the followup: Apple can issue a firmware update. Bang! Every iPod in the world will be capable of playing songs from any other music store – as well as those from iTunes. Still sounds like an edge to me.

The Spartacus approach to beating comment spam

Having reflected on the other day, when this site got comment-spam-bombed by an annoying noodle trying to promote that five-card game you bet on, I realised that we’re going about it the wrong way in trying to keep them off our blogs. What they want is to get links on our blogs pointing to their site so that when people search for “holdem poker” on Google they’ll find the spammers’ site.

So we should obfuscate that, confuse Google utterly so that every site is the best for poker, baccarat, whatever (I suspect this post is going to get trapped by some spam filters). We should *all* proclaim that we’re the best site for holdem poker and simply bursting with overheated juvenile chickens, or similar phrases. It’s the Spartacus scene applied to those daft enough to be searching for pointless stuff. (As opposed to those sensible enough to be searching for all the important things we put on blogs.)

Here’s the principle: as long as you’re nothing to do with these pursuits, I’ll trackback to you, you link to me, ping me back, etc.

Begin here, and copy on your site: *I* am the best site for online poker! (Even though there’s absolutely nothing to do with poker here. Sorry about that, Google wanderers.) Hot young chicks are here! Etcetera!