Has France stopped Apple from becoming the new Microsoft?

It’s an interesting thought and one that probably seems quite illogical at first. The French goverment has just passed a bill that will mean songs downloaded from Apple’s i-tunes store, must work on all MP3 players. It’s been introduced by concerns that Apple have a monopoly on digital entertainment downloads. Considering the fact that the digital dowload industry is less than 5 years old, Apple do have maddive share of it, with over 70% of music and videos downloaded through i-tunes. Compare this to Microsofts larger monopoly that took over 20 years to grow.

I’ve read this article on Wired’s Cult of Mac Blog, that proposes this would be a good thing, in stopping Apple into becoming the monopoly on digital downloads, just as Microsoft has become the dominant force in desktop PCs. The thing is, Apple can just pull out of France and not have to do a thing, but this might encourage other countries to look at monopolies in the tech world.

Personally, I don’t really care. Despite the fact I use i-pod (which I fucking love), I don’t use i-tunes for downloading music. I love the idea of it, but I know there’s too many niggly things that would irritate me. Like the file system, how many times I can burn CDs, the file format, pricing, the range of artists available. Actually buying music on CD your local record store may be increasingly seen as an archaic for of getting songs, but it’s the one where you have most control. I go to Avalanche or Fopp and get CDs for a good price, which I can then rip onto my computer in any format I like (usually MP3). I can burn CDs for my friends as often as I like and the prices are pretty good too. It’s strange but for all it’s convinience, downloading music has more hang-ups than is really worth it.

Mind you, if they bring out a 100 GB i-pod, I’ll probably kiss Steve Job’s feet.


  1. Bina

    Not sure how to feel about this case. It is clear that Apple does not form a competitive threat to the legal download market in France. There are 16 different legal sites in France and only 40% of French consumers choose Apple. So on those grounds, France was incorrectly using competition policy to punish nasty, evil, American, capitalist bastards. On the other hand, I tend to agree that you should think very carefully before buying from iTunes. This is not so much because of the restrictions on what you can do with the music – most of which can be gotten around – but because you are tacitly condoning Apple’s use of music – as a loss leader for their hardware. If you value music highly then this is probably gonna get your goat, although whether you are willing to make a stand and pay more for music is up for question. Still, you have to admire Jobs. In a world where everyone said content would be king, he is using content as a loss leader and making phat cash of the players!

  2. Good point. I remember years ago reading music magazines, in which various industry experts said the idea of legal downloading of music was preposterous and that it couldn’t be done. Mind you, one of those saying that was Johnathan King, the pederast. So what anyone was doing listening to him in the first place is beyond me.

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