iTune Out

Microsoft has announced a new collaboration with Viacom, the parent company of the MTV networks, to start a new online music service called Urge. Seen as an opportunity to battle the Apple/iTunes stronghold, Viacom predicts it will be able to grab the attention of some of the 165 million consumers that watch their networks.

The move by Microsoft is reactionary. Gates and company are trying to break a stronghold that they haven't been able to scathe. I know there are a lot of Apple haters out there, but you gotta admire what Apple has done to the music industry, forcing Microsoft to partner with Viacom. iTunes is so popular because of the iPod player. Apple ventured into an untapped market and it'll be difficult for anyone to touch them.

My prediction: Urge will fail.

And here are two reasons as to why it'll fail:

1) iPod Incompatibility. If you started an online music service, don't you think you'd make your service accessible to as many people as possible? The iPod is the number one digital media player, and Urge's downloads won't work with it. Brilliant.

2) MTV's programming. What's the biggest gripe about MTV? They don't play music anymore. And the only music they do play is teeny-bopper crap. I think Microsoft is giving Viacom a little too much credit here. Sure they'll market it until every other commercial on their networks is for Urge, but I just don't see it helping.

But here's how it could succeed:

Price slashing. If they reduced the price of downloads to make it more affordable than iTunes, then this could work. But the music industry won't let them. So we're back to square one.

Another win for Apple. Microsoft has to try harder.