Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Flattery is the highest compliment, right? Well, while everybody is trying to "compliment" Apple, iLike (along with Last.FM and MOG) should be doubly flattered that Apple is "complimenting" us. It's a classic turnaround from a company that has often succeeded in be a strong second or third mover in a nascent market: great for the ego, but really a threat with little if any upside.

Then again, it's not a first time dance with Apple. The biggest worry at the time was that Apple's use of the name would diminish our brand but while Apple's association name is more prominent among Apple's non-musician customers, almost every serious musician I meet (Mac or PC) still thinks of thinks of GarageBand.com first

The really interesting question is why is Apple doing this...now. We took a risk in launching iLike that Apple would very shortly thereafter copy us. However, we framed the iLike product with an eye to minimizing intrusion into areas that Apple might enter to bolster their main business (selling iPods) and secondary business (selling downloads). So these social widgets may appear to be a de-focusing of Apple's strategy.

I, however, think this is a sign that Apple is re-focusing it's product strategy for the iPod/iPhone on "social computing". Consider, the iPhone has wifi and an OS that supports widgets and that the next gen iPod will likely have both also. So while a "My iTunes" widget seems like a silly copycat on a blog sidebar, it becomes a serious threat if pre-installed on the next iPod and iPhone...even despite the less functionality, because it is one step closer to where people actually listen to music. (iLike is the next closest, with the sidebar). I suspect a this new refresh is not far off and will also compete directly with Helio and pick up where the Microsoft's Zune, uh, left off...but that's for someone else to speculate on ;)

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