Microsoft now says reports that it is planning to commercially launch an MP3 player to rival Apple’s iPod are based on “speculation and rumors.” Anonymous music-industry executives had told the New York Times earlier this week that they had been briefed on the product, which allegedly would be launched in time to serve as stocking stuffers during the holiday season.
I took a dim view of Microsoft’s decision to build and market its own player, and the report published online by the BBC indicates that perhaps Microsoft is rethinking its position.
I have no doubt that the New York Times did receive credible reports from the unnamed recording-industry executives it cited. Companies and politicians often float controversial ideas in the press to see how how they are received by key constituencies and the public at large. That seems to be what has occurred in this case.
My guess is that Microsoft’s hardware partners, who have struggled to make competitive inroads against Apple in the MP3-player marketplace, responded strenuously and vehemently to news that Microsoft would transmogrify from partner to competitor. I also think Microsoft realized it was hubris on its part to believe that it could succeed where its partners have failed. Yes, Microsoft was able to integrate software and hardware successfully with its XBox gaming console; but, as I mentioned in my previous post, that was a different market, with different circumstances and different players.
Perhaps Microsoft has acknowledged those differences now.