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If you’ve been following this blog lately, you’d have come across two posts, here and here, regarding the issue of sound quality in popular music. And to be clear, this isn’t about audiophiles thirsting for perfection. This is about quality control of the product your selling. Would you buy a car with no engine?
Last time, I mentioned that Jimmy Iovine and company at Interscope/Geffen/A&M (EPA: VIV) were planning to take on the issue and “reinvigorate the entire music ecosystem.” Some details of the plan are starting to spill out: Iovine, Dr. Dre, and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) are all rumored to be involved.
According to CNET, HP will release a line of laptops, software, and headsets under the "Beats by Dr. Dre" brand. If that sounds familiar, you might remember these headsets. I haven't personally tried them, but word on the street is the sound is worth the $349 list price. See BusinessWeek's full review of the headphones here.
The article explores two other issues, both of which I must take issue.
First, that this could lead to a potential showdown with Apple: "... the plan has all the markings of an attempt to lure away those Apple fans who possess a discerning ear." Seems logical, but let's not forget that neither Apple (AAPL) or HP -- or any other software or hardware company -- OWN the music. They're only distribution channels. To think of the issue in this manner gives those companies too much power. Consumers should demand full quality music, not because they're discerning, but because that is what they're paying for. Consumers are being short-changed.
Second, the author paraphrases NPD Analyst Russ Crupnick: Studies by the NPD Group show that there are people willing to pay a premium for equipment and software that produce more lifelike music, said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick. But the research also indicates the majority of consumers are satisfied with their Apple earbuds and iTunes songs, which are now available at 256 kbps, he said.
Consumers are satisfied? I beg to differ. Consumers don't have options. A person might think they're happy with a VHS cassette, but wait until you show them the DVD.
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