YouTube vs. iTunes
I read this story in a state of disbelief.
It claims that YouTube wants to host “every video ever made” in short order and that, if and when this happens, iTunes will be in trouble. After all, why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free, right?
True enough, but it is surely also true that it pays to be sure one is really comparing Apples to apples, cows to cows and milk to milk.
There are a number of very large holes in this comparison. Consider:
- Compare the video quality available at You Tube with the offerings you can buy at iTunes or the free movie trailers available at Apple. The offerings at YouTube or Google Video are absolutely awful in comparison. Muddy, grainy, choppy- in a word, yucky.
- There are currently no portable media players tied to YouTube. That could change but even so, it’s a big if. There is no software for transfering files to such a device either. One can’t simply assume it (or they) will be as well put together as iTunes. Without such software, users will have to use Windows Explorer or something like it, which is hardly the best thing going. Just today on MacCast there was a discussion of hidden files appearing on a non Apple portable music device, causing the device to stop playing until a new media file was chosen.
- If YouTube is only going to host videos and not music files, the files will be large compared to an MP3 or AAC files. If video quality is going to be addressed, the files will be even larger still.
- If WiFi was more realistic, the storage issues and terrible video quality of YouTube video might be lessened, but that day isn’t here yet. WiFi capability on a portable music device is, to the best of my knowledge, still more of a marketing dream than an engineering reality. Not that it can’t be done – the problem is that it’s a battery killer at this point.
- Finally there is the issue of just how attractive music videos really are. I mean, MTV and Much Music don’t even play them all that much anymore. They are mostly uninteresting and that’s why there’s been a move away from them. The music alone is much more attractive and I’m pretty certain that few of the big stars and large labels are eager to give those files away for free. If they are going to give the videos away it will be as a lure to get people to buy the music.
This, btw, is just plain wrong:
To further complicate Apple’s problem is its technology: Apple uses a proprietary file format that forces its iTunes content to be played on iPod devices. In the long term, this could seriously hurt revenue potential as services like YouTube use much more widely available file formats like Flash video — supported by every Internet browser.
This must come as a shock to everyone out there playing Apple AACs on Windows PCs, and to anyone who’s ever burned MP3’s or AACs to CDs that can be played on any stereo. You can also play MP3’s from any source in iTunes software, and play those MP3’s on your iPod. I’ve never felt especially “locked in” with Apple’s iTunes DRM, even if I’d like to see the number of machines a user is allowed increased to eight or ten, up from the five in the current license.
If YouTube is going to offer people more choices for entertainment, that’s all well and good. Things like that can put pressure on companies like Apple to keep their DRM’s reasonable. I do get tired of the media’s penchant for touting events as ‘controveries’, ‘clashes’, ‘tipping points’, however.
Remember the niche – that concept will only be more important as technology drives down the price of content production. Players serving different niches are not in direct competition with one another no matter what a breathless headline says.