Michael Robertson has a pretty simple strategy for starting companies. Figure out how technology is completely undermining existing business models -- especially in cases where incumbents are fighting hard to protect obsolete business models -- and simply push them over the edge. That is, he takes the business model changes to the logical extreme, and goes there. He did this originally with MP3.com, upsetting the recording industry. Then, he did it with Lindows (now Linspire) upsetting Microsoft, and he's tried to do it in the VoIP world with SIPphone, though that one came a bit late to the game. In some sense, he does this for two reasons. First, he knows that the logical extreme he's offering is often exactly what customers want. However, more importantly, the anger (and, hopefully, lawsuits) directed at him from the incumbents he's undermining acts as tremendous publicity. In fact, with SIPphone, he was so late to the game, that when no one sued him, he had to sue another company that was better at the game than he was. Well, now he's going to try to do it again -- and he's going back to his roots. He's starting up a company called MP3 Tunes, which will be an online music store that actually sells MP3s. There won't be any copy protection or restrictions. He also plans to sell portable music players and software for listening to MP3s. His idea, of course, is that people want MP3s, rather than copy protected files that only work on certain players and can't be transferred around easily. Obviously, there are a few other online music stores that have tried this, but Robertson is very good at getting publicity, so this ought to get some attention. The big question, of course, is going to be about selection. Is he going to be able to offer music that people actually want -- or will the recording industry make sure he's left with lesser known acts?
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