I'm sure everyone else is going to spend their time looking at the Windows release of iTunes, so it's not worth looking at in any more detail around here beyond what we've already discussed. What I think is much more interesting is looking at how these services evolve, and what sorts of features they're looking to add. Along with the Windows announcement, Apple also announced an "allowance" feature, that lets parents set a monthly allowance that their kids can spend on music downloads. Clearly, this is an attempt to pull them away from open file sharing networks, and it may actually do a good job of that (to some extent). I still think that most of these music download services are missing the point (at both ends) of the benefit of a music sharing service. From the end users' perspective, music sharing is all about the ability to explore and discover new music. Music downloading is only about buying stuff you know about. These are very different perspectives - and the latter makes the music a lot less valuable in some ways. From the distribution side, music download services still require central servers, lots of bandwidth, and large costs in terms of billing and maintenance. File sharing gets rid of almost all of those issues. It distributes the hosting and bandwidth costs and ditches the maintenance and billing aspects. Having a situation that expands the pie and takes away the biggest costs seems like an opportunity to a company willing to embrace a music sharing model over a music downloading model.
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