Music Format Standards Battle — Bad News For Everyone

from the yay,-more-anti-consumer-activities dept

Back when there were just MP3s, everything worked well. The quality was good enough for most, the compression was reasonable and everyone could make it work. But, of course, the recording industry freaked out, and now we have a tower of babble of different music file standards — so it should be no surprise that the percentage of music files in the MP3 format on the average hard drive is declining, as some other formats start to make inroads. However, there seem to be a few reasons why this is happening. First, most downloads are MP3s, and people see downloaded MP3s as “disposable” — so they’re deleting them faster than they’re downloading new songs (which gives plenty of weight to the idea that people use file sharing networks for sampling music). Meanwhile, people ripping CDs to digital music files often end up putting them in AAC or WMA because that’s the standard way iTunes and Windows Media Player rip them. However, if you ask people, they simply assume that both players rip to MP3. In some sense, MP3 has just become a generic term for digital music file — which is only going to lead to problems later when the AAC and WMA files don’t behave the same way MP3 files do. Once again, the industry is doing more damage by fragmenting the way in which people store their digital music. There’s no benefit to the end user, but it will lead to confusion and anger — which isn’t the way you should want your customers to feel.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Music Format Standards Battle — Bad News For Everyone”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Steve Mueller (user link) says:

Re: VHS vs. Beta

VHS vs. Betamax is a bad analogy. While “best format” is subjective, most knowledgable video people will admit that Beta had better quality. In fact, I recall reading that Sony developed VHS (or something very similar) but rejected it because the quality wasn’t up to their standards.

My understanding is that VHS won for two reasons. First, at standard speed, Betamax only gave one hour of recording time; VHS gave two, which made movie rentals possible. Second, JVC licensed VHS more freely than Sony licensed Betamax, so more machines were available in VHS, which made VHS look more popular.

On a standard tape, VHS eventually had a six-hour maximum, while Betamax had five, so the movie rental reason eventually disappeared, leaving only the licensing terms. Does better licensing really make for a better format?

You could argue that better licensing is why Windows is dominant over Macintosh, too. Does that mean Windows is “better” than Mac OS?

For the record, all of my VCRs were VHS and all of my PCs ran Windows, some I’m not some disgruntled Betamax or Mac user.

RJD says:


Choice is good. Standards are nice but they are meant to be deviated from.

I suspect WMA will become to defacto standard simply because Mr. Softie made it so on his machine and folks simply go with the default (which is why most of the world is using windows media player, Internet Explorer, etc. See no reason why it should be any different this time. Which is to say people aren’t getting any smarter.

One day some one is going to understand that by allowing Microsoft to control the OS and provide applications that they are able to create monopolies in just about any arena they can get a windows box into.

At least the EU gets it.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...