A different tune (update)

Trade press and mass media continue to report on Apple’s (new) iTunes for Windows. PC World reports that Apple sold 1 million tunes in three days after the launch. likened Apple’s move to throwing down a “guantlet” to other music sites. “I think this will come down to Apple vs. MusicMatch unless Microsoft enters, which is expected, and changes the overall dynamic,” industry analyst Rob Enderle told

Articles (analysts) also reference the competing technologies — Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio (WMA, a proprietary codec designed to compete with MPEG3) and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC, an industry standard).

AAC is designed to give the highest audio quality in smallest file size/bit rate. And it’s not new. Moreover, many experts insist that it is “the state of the art in audio compression technology.”

The “battle” between MP3 and AAC has been compared with VHS-BetaMax, where the best technology “lost” due to hardware incompatibilities. That’s not (necessarily) the case here, as many players can “hear” both AAC and MP3; backwards compatibility is now expected by consumers. Will Microsoft capitulate, that is, will it conform to standards and support AAC? That’s the $64 question.

For a great explanation of AAC, see this 2000 column by Joe Coffee.

Geeks may wish to read the ISO standard.

The Crutchfield Advisor explains file types. This National Institute of Standards and Technology table (2002) compares audio, image, text and video formats; the table also lists the “owner” of the technologies.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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