|Given that Apple's iPod/iTunes/iTMS combination has become a charismatic, popular and powerful figure in the music industry, finding someone both willing and able to destroy it has proven difficult.
Microsoft's competing technology is lame, flabby and unpopular amongst informed consumers; hardware competitors are all weak, confused and mostly reliant on Microsoft; and the competing online music stores have all been freakishly retarded aberrations. Hardly a lineup of deft killers, but they were sent to die in battle anyway, triumphantly waving the iPod Killer flag for a press release or two before being beaten senseless.
Left with few options, pundits recently jumped on a bandwagon that suggests the music labels themselves will destroy the iPod. It makes some sense on the surface; music labels have reportedly been pushing Apple to raise prices for songs at the iTMS ever since it was launched nearly two and a half years ago.
Label executives would certainly have preferred Microsoft to be in charge of online music distribution. After all, Microsoft spent years developing the Windows Media Player DRM solely to fit the desires of the entertainment industry. WMP was designed to give content producers locked down, full control of everything they chose to distribute, and destroy any recollection of existing fair-use rights that their customers had come to expect.
Music and videos could be sold in WMP format and set to self-destruct, DIVX-style, at a given expiration date. Media sales could be entirely replaced with a subscription model, where nobody would actually buy anything anymore, but simply pay a daily tax for the privilege to be entertained. Once sales are converted to taxes, companies no longer need to compete in a free market; they just sit back and enjoy the non-stop money. And then raise the tax as desired.
It turned out that Microsoft and the music labels failed to take into consideration that the models they were trying to push had already failed. Customers would only ever submit to their game if it were the only one in town; even when it was, customers failed to show much interest at all.
When Apple introduced the iTunes Music Store, the labels opened their catalogues to see what would happen. Customers lined up and turned Apple's store into the premier online music destination. The iPod and iTunes had already become popular, but suddenly the iPod player and related store simply cleaned up, leaving Apple the only real music distribution outlet in the industry that even mattered.
Now, the story goes, music labels are unhappy and will simply pull the plug on Apple and force the world to use Microsoft's WMP devices and online stores. Who could pull off such a killing? Reportedly, it's the chief of Warner Music, Edgar Bronfman Jr.
Part II > The Killer Piñata