Thursday, July 06, 2006

How to Spend 1 Billion Dollars

Being more-or-less in the market for a new portable mp3 player, I've been keeping an eye on news of the Gigabeat S and not-so-secret Microsoft player. I was impressed with the bold move by Microsoft to attract current Ipod users to switch:

To attract current iPod users Microsoft is going to let you download for free any songs you've already bought from the iTunes Music Store. They'll actually scan iTunes for purchased tracks and then automatically add those to your account.

That is quite possibly the best use of 1 billion dollars for marketing an MP3 player that I've heard of.

All those millions of iPod users with their stacks of DRM'd AAC songs aren't going to switch over to Microsoft's player even if it was better, simply because they won't have anything to play on it.

But for the cost of some of their pocket change, Microsoft can completely erase that Apple advantage. They still have to actually go through with the (at this point merely rumored) plan, come up with credible competition in terms of the mp3 device itself, and deal with the brand juggernaut that is the iPod, but spending somewhere less then 1 billion dollars to help make it easier for people to convert away from iPods seems like a brilliant start.

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