Seattle Geeks Amazon, Zune, and Rhapsody Gang Up On the iTunes Bully. Could This Smackdown Be Real?

Probably the first Zunes you've ever seen.
Tech Flash's Todd Bishop has an interesting story up today about Seattle-area businesses--Amazon, Zune, Rhapsody--picking off business from Apple's behemoth, iTunes. Aside from Amazon--which now takes in 8 percent of the nation's mp3 business--the talk is mostly about subscription services like Zune Pass, which is coming to Windows-operated mobile phones, and Rhapsody, which just dropped their subscription price to $9.99.

Neither Zune nor Rhapsody (recently spun off from RealNetworks), or the subscription-based music business at large makes up a significant amount of the online/mp3 market, which is surprising in many ways, and not in a lot of others. For the last month(ish), I've been demoing a Zune, and I'm just as smitten with the Zune Pass (subscription) today as I was the first day I picked it up.

The holdup for a lot of people thinking about a subscription--a monthly fee for unlimited downloads that go away (Zune Pass being an exception) when you stop subscribing--versus something like iTunes where you keep all of your mp3s purchased at a substantially higher rate--is that people want to keep what they own. But when you're talking about music online and mp3s, ownership is an illusion.

Do we really ever own mp3s the way we do CDs or records? I don't think so. But we pay pretty much the same amount. It only takes one fried computer, a change of jobs, or just another busted iPod for an entire collection of mp3s to disappear. I know I've wasted hundreds of bucks on iTunes tracks that I'll never see again.

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