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The (Legal) Digital Music Downloading Battle

Techstination feature for Friday, October 10, 2003

The legal digital music downloading battle begins. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Apple started it, with its iTunes Music Store. And here come all the competitors. Napster, a Windows version of Apple's iTunes Music Store, Rhapsody from Real Networks and soon, perhaps... a service... from Microsoft... which has already been launched in Europe. MusicMatch, which says its music playing and burning software is used by 40 million people, has started a 99 cent a song downloading business as well. Senior VP Bob Ohlweiler...

"You just click, download, it puts in right in your media player and it bills your account. It's fantastic. And we think it's going to be breakthrough because one of the things that's different from anyone else is we're combining downloads and radio into one product and all embedded in a digital media jukebox."

Album downloads go for 9.99. Users can make compilation CDs and save songs on Windows Media capable digital music players. That excludes Apple's popular iPods. But the big issue is how much of a dent can the for pay services really make in all of free file swapping that's still going on?

"You have to make it painful for people to steal music, which the recording industry is doing. We think that we're clearly going to be able to convert the people who have money, people who don't have a lot of time. I think converting kids, who have a lot of time and no money is going to be a lot more challenging."

But the battle has begun. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.