Space Ramblings

MTV Gives Bill Gates the Boot

When Microsoft first announced its music service meant to be an aspiring rival to iTunes and supposedly meant to package its link to the upcoming Zune player that was supposed to be an iPod killer, the showiest part of its rollout involved its partnering on Urge with MTV. MTV was certainly the only reason Urge had much credibility to begin with.

On the flip side the only real reason MTV partnered with Microsoft is that it seemed like the biggest dog on the block and its operating system monopoly and the wide integration of its media player suggested that Microsoft should be able to make the music business hum. Instead Microsoft made it yawn. Urge was a bust. Zune was a bust. Urge songs on top of everything else didn’t play on the Zune.

Now MTV is finally giving Bill Gates the boot and moving in with RealNetworks Rhapsody. Surprised? Not really. There’s few credible partners out there and RealNetworks has somehow survived over a decade of everything that Microsoft and Apple could throw at it, making it a hated if scrappy competitors and RealPlayer 11 is a definite winner even in Beta, easily beating out the gross and unnecessary Microsoft Media Player 11 update.

MTV Networks will drop its Urge digital music offering to partner with Real Networks’ Rhapsody service for a new venture that will be backed exclusively by Verizon Wireless, the companies announced Tuesday. The expected partnership will result in a new company, dubbed Rhapsody America. It is intended to create a single, digital platform for PCs, portable music devices and mobile phones, executives said during a conference call.

Granted RealNetworks has tried this before but now it has some major partners in the form of Verizon, which is aiming at music sales on their mobile service and MTV which has a certain branding power. And unlike Microsoft, these are companies that can succeed without beating users over the head with their monopoly or waiting for the guys competing against them to screw up.

Now note, this is still no iTunes killer. Steve Jobs has nothing to worry about here. Bill Gates was never at the starting gate. But considering that Apple’s future lies through cell phones, Verizon is struggling to block an Apple dominance via iPhone and AT&T.

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