The Critical Path #75: Bigger Than US Steel

5by5 | The Critical Path #75: Bigger Than US Steel.

New data allows us to estimate the components of iTunes with more precision. The entire business is now transacting over $17 billion a year. We take a look at how this insight can be gained and what it means for the future of commercial media.


  • obarthelemy

    70 minutes is way too long for me. Even if I had the time to listen to a straight 70 mins segment, I’d probably tune out after 15 minutes. Since there’s no transcript/summary to fall back on, I’ll pass.

    • Anthony

      I totally disagree 🙂 The material is so well thought through and objectively delivered I have been listening to most episodes twice. “Slow down and do it properly the first time”

    • jeff

      You’re making a complaint on the length of a podcast that has 75 past episodes with similar lengths? Why are you even commenting on this?

      Also FYI podcast listeners often use the 2X setting for faster playback.

      • Tom

        Horace always delivers a handful wonderful insights in every podcast, but often takes a rather meandering or verbose path to getting to those points. Greater than 1x speed is a must for restoring Horace to an efficient, non-agonizing, pace of communication.

    • Dave Brandt

      You’ve need to take it out of cruise control in order to “get” Horace. With Horace, I’ve got to sit up and pay attention. That convention is not written out but its obvious to most of us.

      If that’s not for you, there’s plenty of quality lightweight podcasts out there. Dan has a bunch.

      The main reason that you gotta get out of cruise control is because Horace is a true Aristotelian. He speaks in paragraphs instead of sound bytes and reasons from premises to conclusions. Slowly and carefully. The great advantage is that Aristotelians can reach a more lofty plateau than those whose “analysis” consists of chanting slogans (“Android is winning”). Its a long climb, but I relish the opportunity to go on the adventure. I make time for Horace.

      The danger of speaking in sound bytes is that you may start *thinking* in sound bytes. For an extreme case, check out award-winning analyst Rob Enderle. He is the recipient of both Roughly Drafted’s “Zoon” and Daring Fireball’s coveted “Claim Chowder”. Check out some of his most imaginative writing:

      When you’re done, you should be ready to sit up and pay attention to Horace.

      • Jerome

        Dave, thanks for these links. I managed to read the first one, but the text is so illogical and random that it’s hard to suffer through it. It’s good that the text is short, as it makes as much sense as reading a phonebook.

        One gem: (Topic is that Blackberry will obtain world domination this year) “..focused on IT first and the needs of users later.” Sure thing. People love products that suck, that’s why they are still holding on to their Blackberries. Oh, wait.

        This however is his logic at its best:
        “RIM, like Apple and Microsoft, operates in a way that promotes apps that people buy and focuses on making products secure. As a result, BlackBerry devices are likely to be favored by those abandoning Android.”

        I’m stunned. Like saying “Sun is shining, night is dark, as a result I scratch my head when the cat meows.” I didn’t bother to read the second link, life is short.

  • Mark

    As much as I appreciate that want people with powerful thoughts and ideas to be succinct, fluent, and polished, a chat format as 5by5 is, isn’t going to deliver (at least consistently). Horace written work better meets this need as he has had the time to refine his thinking.

    I really appreciate the podcasts as I get a sense of where his thinking and insights are going towards. This on the edge and in the moment is fascinating and I can look past that it is a work in progress.

  • al birn

    there are only 58 companies that have revenues of at least $100 billion revenues per year; Apple is #18, a little higher than Berkshire Hathaway !

  • Henry

    Horace: I particularly liked this episode and I appreciated your enthusiasm for having cracked the code on Apple’s content business.

    One thing you didn’t discuss but that may worth considering is how large its individual content businesses could conceivably become. For example, you discussed books and video as being on par, but I suspect the sizes of the book and video markets, when distribution is included, vary by an order of magnitude, and only the latter has the potential to become something significant for Apple. Similarly, music may never move the needle again for Apple, but Apps are on their way.

    In thinking about the future of Apple, if we want to consider the idea of content as standalone profit centers (rather than supporting divisions), these considerations seems important.

    PS: In response to the negative comments about the long format of the podcast, I find the 70 minute format to be totally engaging and it always ends too soon for me. (I listen while doing housework and during my runs.)

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