Business & Technology Nexus

Dave Stephens on technology and business trends

Wal-Mart Embraces Selling MP3 Songs For 94c Online

with 2 comments

WSJ and others report Wal-Mart has begun selling some songs and albums online the popular and DRM-free MP3 format. Previously they have sold online via Microsoft’s less-than-popular WMA format.

The pricing is what interests me most. Wal-Mart has entered at 94c whereas iTunes is charging 1.29. That’s a big % difference but still only couch change. We’ll see if, once there’s enough MP3 offered in iTunes and at Wal-Mart.com if this changes market dynamics. It will also be interesting to see whether Wal-Mart’s decision gives Apple increased leverage in its future negotiations with the music labels.

One interesting note – while Wal-Mart may indeed be supporting a more open standard with MP3, it still likes PC’s better & blocks other operating systems from interacting with their online download services:

“We’re sorry, your operating system is incompatible. To provide the best download experience, we can no longer support Windows 98, ME or NT. Please visit again after you upgrade to Windows 2000 or XP. Visit our Help section for complete system requirements information.”

Hello Wal-Mart, it’s called a Mac! :)

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Written by Dave Stephens

08/21/07 5:41 AM at 5:41 am

Posted in Opinion

2 Responses

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  1. Sadly Dave, it isn’t DRM-free just because the format is MP3. Open file formats do not equal open implementations…that’s a common misperception.

    Follow the link you provided to Wal-Mart’s Help section. Scroll down to the second-to-last entry for your answer.

    The dead-giveaway was the platform dependency. Had this been implemented as a simple server side app serving up MP3s for download via browser, I might have believed DRM-free. But Win 2000 and XP only?

    Wal-Mart’s “download manager” is a client-side app and it requires IE6 and Media Player as well. You can bet the download manager authenticates your “right” to play the music you’ve purchased via MS-DRM. Obviously, Mac users can circumvent that little annoyance buy running 2000/XP with Bootcamp, Fusion or Parallels. But who wants to have to boot a WinOS just to listen to music?

    Want to listen to the MP3s on your iPod or other portable player? Too bad, so sad.

    josephmartins

    11/23/07 10:09 PM at 10:09 pm

  2. Did I just misspell by? Serves me right for responding past my bedtime.

    josephmartins

    11/23/07 10:13 PM at 10:13 pm


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