How To Lose Customers and Alienate Audiences

August 26th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Hmm, let’s see, one hand you have a product that dominates a certain market. On the other, not so much. You, a business, decide to utilize a particular technology to provide your services to your customers. It makes perfect sense that you would choose the less popular, less ubiquitous platform to deliver your goods.

After all, you don’t mind setting yourself up for failure.

Librarians say they had little interest in audiobook downloads just a few years ago, but they have since noticed what everyone else has: the ubiquity of people sporting earbuds on streets, buses and malls.

Nearly 28 million portable audio players were sold last year, according to In-Stat, a technology research company. With more than 21 million sold, the iPod remains the signature portable player. But it uses the Advanced Audio Coding format with FairPlay, its own digital rights management system and one incompatible with Windows’ technology.

Yes, kids, it’s true. Libraries are offering downloadable audiobooks. No, kids, they won’t work with your iPod. You can only use the Windows Media Audio format. It’s our old friend Digital Piracy causing all the problems. Why anyone believes the Windows format is a beacon of security perplexes us, but there you have it. Perhaps we’re just feeling cynical this morning, but we can’t imagine people choosing a Windows-based device over an iPod because you can get library books that way.

We should point out that there’s a perfectly logical reason for all of this:

Marge Gammon of NetLibrary said that despite iPod’s cache [BS: we’re not sure if this word is being used correctly, but it could be our mood], the company wanted a product that could be played on a range of devices.

Uh huh. We will refrain from noting the obvious, if only because we have a life.

Librarians say they have heard complaints from iPod users, but there’s little they can do beyond waiting for the industry to sort out its differences.

One California library shunned the download services completely, largely because of iPod’s popularity. Instead, Newport Beach Public Library bought 15 iPod Shuffles and loaded them up with audiobooks from iTunes to loan out. Patrons are liable for any loss or damage, though librarian Genesis Hansen said there’s been no problems so far.

Luckily, Audible products continue to work just fine with iPods, making it convenient for consumers to download books and listen to them while running, at the gym, in the car, and a gazillion other places.

File Under: Square Pegs