Good editorial in PC World on the increasingly monopolistic position that apple holds in the online media world.
The core complaint about Microsoft in the 1990s was that its Windows market share gave it monopoly power, which it abused in multiple ways. Attorneys General and others zeroed in on the "bundling" of the Internet Explorer Web browser, which they claimed was forced on users because Microsoft offered it as part of Windows.
People love iPods (including me; my family of four has purchased 12 iPods in the past few years). But iPods come bundled with iTunes. Want to buy music from Apple? Guess what? You must install iTunes. Want an Apple cell phone from AT&T? Yep! ITunes is required even if you want only to make phone calls. Want to buy ringtones for your Apple phone? ITunes.
Apple not only "bundles" iTunes with multiple products, it forces you to use it. At least with Internet Explorer, you could always just download a competitor and ignore IE.
He also points out the absurd pricing of the ringtones for the Iphone
That same shock rippled through the iPhone enthusiast community yesterday when Jobs announced with a straight face that iPhone ringtones based on iTunes songs would cost the full price of the song, plus 99 cents extra. What? The full song costs 99 cents! How on Earth can Apple seriously charge the same amount again for the ability to hear just 30 seconds of the song -- the same length as the free iTunes "samples"?
Apple fully understands the power of monopoly pricing. The company has sold the 8GB iPhone for two prices in its short, three months of existence: $599 and, now, $399. When the iPhone was the only way to get the whole multitouch, big-screen, Wi-Fi iPod experience -- when the product had no alternatives -- the price was $599. One analyst estimated Apple's cost to build an iPhone is $245.83. I don't know if that's true but, if so, more than half the user cost was profit. That's theater soda pricing. But as soon as Apple introduced an alternative to the iPhone -- the iPod Touch -- Apple dropped the price by one-third.
Read the article over at PCWorld for his surprising conclusion.