Apple’s iPod/iTunes Monopoly

Why do people and groups continue to mislabel companies as monopolistic which clearly are not?

Various websites and news outlets reported recently of a monopolistic practices suit brought against Apple and its iTunes/iPod digital music platform. According to Appleinsider “the suit was brought about by Florida resident Frederick Black on behalf of all Florida residents who have purchased an iPod or downloaded media from iTunes and faced restrictions, such that they cannot transfer content purchased from iTunes to a non iPod digital music player, nor can they download digital content from other online vendors to their iPods.” Supposedly with iPod and iTunes, Apple is forcing people to buy into a closed ecosystem.

iTunesThe problem here is that people no longer understand monopoly. A monopoly is “exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service (emphasis mine).” If Apple maneuvered so that the iPod was the only existing digital music player and if music companies could only sell digital music through iTunes, and if iTunes music was the only digital music content you could put on the iPod, then this lawsuit might hold water. But this is far from the case. It seems that everyone and his brother manufacturers digital music players. There’s Microsoft, Creative, Sony, and hundreds of no-name brands. And iTunes is far from being the only digital music marketplace. Consider Amazon MP3, eMusic, Napster, Rhapsody. All of these, in addition to the non-paying (and in my opinion, illegal) services such as Limewire provide an alternative to iTunes. . And what’s more these are major companies and are well-known in the digital entertainment industry. They have some of the same deals with the music labels as iTunes. Furthermore iPod owners can still purchase CD’s online and in their favorite music stores, copy those CD’s into their iTunes library and put them on as many computers or music players as they want with no restrictions.

It is perfectly understandable for Apple to want you to use all of their products and so they make products that work well, and in this case exclusively, together. This is Apple’s prerogative. And it is definitely not monopolistic.

Josh H.



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