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Ipods revolutionize music, film

by Juan E. Salazar, staff writer

Music downloads have been the subject of much controversy during the past few years. Napster, which was founded in the mid 90s, offered people the chance to share music through the Internet. This meant we could download music files from other people’s computers that had the same software, and we didn’t have to pay for them. In other words, Napster made possible widespread access to free music.


“Napster phenomena” became huge, with millions of users worldwide swapping billions of music files, making record industry executives very nervous. Compact disks sales plunged, taking a big bite off their earnings. In the long run, it could have brought revenues down to a point where the profitability of the whole industry would be jeopardized.

So the music industry did away with free music downloads altogether and waged a legal war against Napster and its users. Today, several years later, the corporate powers of the recording industry seem to have won the battle. Napster was convicted of copyrights infringement.

Some users of Napster and other similar software programs were also prosecuted and convicted of copyright infringement. In most cases, they were young people, ages 13 to 21, and their parents.
The future of the Internet as a source of music distribution seemed uncertain, but recently the possibility of Internet music downloads grew brighter, thanks to people like Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple Computers.

Jobs wants his company to become a major player in the music industry in order to extend the market share Apple had gained with its popular Ipod. The Ipod is a device similar to a Walkman, but smaller (like a deck of cards). It can store up to 10,000 songs. The Walkman was introduced in 1979 by Sony Corporation, and became very popular. Ipod has had similar success, the difference being that Ipod customers can go to Apple’s music site, Itunes, to download music directly into their Ipods at a cost of about 80 cents per song. Apple buys the music from the record industry, so it’s happy. Consumers can get their music inexpensively from Apple, so they are happy. Ipods become a constant income source for Apple, so Jobs and his stockholders are happy.

Jobs is planning to use Apple’s Itunes Web site to market and sell music of all genres, thus creating a new kind of music store online where you can shop from the comfort of you own home. The industry is still young, and there are still as many formats for downloading music as there are devices to download into, but Apple is moving away from its usual proprietary practices--that is, to protect their hardware from competition by including software that can only be used with their hardware. Instead, Apple now seems more open to the possibility of making Ipods that can run with Microsoft software, and create Apple software that can run their competitors’ devices. This would allow a more people to download music from Itunes regardless of the brand of their MP3player, as Ipod-like devices have come to be known.

One major step in this direction is a joint venture between Apple and Hewlett Packard (HP) that would allow HP to sell Ipods under a different name with the HP brand, and incentives that would lure HP PC owners to buy and download music from Itunes into their PCs.

If Jobs has his way and captures a large segment of the music industry through the Itunes Web site, he could change the face of the music industry forever, and change the way we buy and enjoy music. With the storage capacity of devices such as the Ipod--about 15 gigabytes of memory--people could keep their entire music collections in a very small device they can carry in their pocket, eliminating the bulk of CDs, allowing us to save space and keep things organized.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If we start buying music through the Internet and storing it in small devices, there is also a possibility that we could start buying and storing movies the same way. In fact, rumors are already circulating about a device much like the Ipod that could be used for movies instead of music.

Jobs’ company, Pixar Studios, has done five major movies, all blockbusters. Its movies, Toy Story, which marked the beginning of a new digital animation era, and Finding Nemo, was last year’s No. 1 movie.


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