Pumping Up the Volume: Apple Extends Its iTunes Music Jukebox and Pay-per-Song Store to the Vast Windows Universe. but There's Plenty of Competition out There-Some of It Still Free
Levy, Steven, Newsweek
Byline: Steven Levy
When Steve Jobs was dismissed from Apple, the company he cofounded, by the then CEO John Sculley 18 years ago, the blow was particularly brutal because Jobs himself had wooed Sculley from his post as head of Pepsi. His challenge to Sculley had been, "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life?"
Last week Jobs, who has reclaimed the reins at Apple and restored the company to glory--most recently by taking the leadership in selling online music with its 99-cents-a-song iTunes Music Store--announced a new alliance. With Pepsi-Cola. Next February and March, 100 million Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Sierra Mist bottles with yellow caps will have a code printed on them that grants sugar-water guzzlers a free song from Apple's slick Internet emporium--and teaches them the joys of legal digital music.
The Pepsi deal was only the fizz in Jobs's continuing campaign to let the carrot, and not the stick, save the music industry from death at the hands of Internet pirates. He also announced an exclusive arrangement with America Online whereby its 25 million users would be steered to the iTunes store for music purchases and billed directly on their AOL accounts for the downloads. But the big deal was the extension of Apple's iTunes software--and the online store that works in tandem with the program--from the smallish Macintosh community to the zillions of people who use Windows. Acknowledging the weirdness of Apple's entry into hard-core Windows development, Jobs introduced the software with a huge slide proclaiming hell froze over. But the program itself was remarkable in its fidelity to the original, easy-to-use Mac version. And the iTunes store will be the same for Windows users as for Mac fanatics.
"This is the best Windows application ever written," crowed Jobs. The claim wasn't well received in Redmond, Wash. "Steve has been good in the minor leagues, but Windows is the major leagues, and it's a different game," says Dave Fester, general manager of Microsoft Windows Media Division. "Windows is about choice," he adds, referring to the fact that downloads from iTunes can be moved directly to iPods but not other portable digital music players.
While Apple has a big lead in online sales--13 million downloads so far--others are eager to get into the action. Some competitors believe consumers will gravitate to subscription services that offer un-limited music for those who keep paying a monthly fee. …