Remember Musicmatch? It was a MP3 ripper/music library program that worked pretty well. I used it faithfully–I shelled out $20 for a “lifetime product upgrade” version that worked great–until I bought my first iPod. That required downloading iTunes and importing the library I had created with Musicmatch into iTunes. I didn’t like iTunes as much–it ripped CDs much, much slower then Musicmatch–but what could I do? I wanted to sync music with my new iPod Mini. It was my gateway drug into the Apple universe. Today, outside of one Windows machine I use for office work and writing, all my gear is from Apple. It just sort of…happened.
Back in 2005, a lawsuit was filed against Apple over the proprietary software used in the iPod. The gist of it was because the only device iTunes worked with seamlessly was the iPod, Apple was engaging in unfair competitive practices. “Want to use iTunes to its fullest? Then you’d better buy an iPod. Yeah, they cost more than other MP3 players. Tough. And yeah, an iPod will lock you into our ecosystem. Again, tough titty.”
Even though the software at the centre of this case isn’t being used anymore, the whole thing is back in court–and a star witness for the prosecution will be Steve Jobs.
A previously unseen video of Jobs talking about iTunes, the iPod and Apple’s plans to lock down consumers will be shown in open court. His comments come from a deposition taken not long before his death. From the New York Times:
Mr. Jobs’s emails and videotaped deposition taken before his death, plaintiffs’ lawyers say, will portray him as planning to break a competitor’s product to protect Apple’s grip on digital music.
“We will present evidence that Apple took action to block its competitors and in the process harmed competition and harmed consumers,” said Bonny Sweeney, the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer.
The case–which has Musicmatch at the centre of it all–could cost Apple $350 million. Then again, the company is worth close to $700 billion, so if they lose, they can probably just gather up the lost change they find in lunchroom at 1 Infinite Loop.