Want To Learn About The Original iTunes Idea?
I am currently reading’ “The Virgin Way”, by Richard Branson. This is an excellent book on the life and escapades of the fun and adventurous billionaire. In the book, Branson tells the story of a practical joke he played on April 1, 1986, where he announced that his company would be launching a new revolutionary service whereby he has developed a supercomputer and recorded just about every song onto this supercomputer, and would be effectively charging a small monthly fee to users to access and download the songs of their liking. He called the service, Music Box, and brilliantly timed the announcement with an interview the day before, with the UK’s biggest music trade magazine, Music Week .
“I told them that for years Virgin had been secretly developing a giant computer, on which we had stored every music track we could lay our hands on. This revolutionary device would be called Music Box, and music lovers would be able to use it as a source from which, for a small fee, they could download any individual song or album they wanted,” Branson writes in his book. Customers would access these songs through their cable boxes.
The Music Week’s lead story read “Branson’s Bombshell: The End of the Industry” and as with just about everything the Branson does, he received tons of press and many of the music industry competitors called him directly to plead for him not to launch the service.
He later told the press after noon the following day (April 1, 1986) that it was all a hoax, and just an April fool’s prank.
However, there was one person that was especially interested in his prank/idea, Steve Jobs, from Apple.
“It was many years later when I ran into Steve Jobs at some event or another that he told me that he too had read the bogus Music Box story and had been utterly taken in by it,” he writes. “At the time he had just been edged out of Apple and founded NeXT, but he said he’d never forgotten my spoof and at the time thought that, joke or no joke, there was definitely something to be said for our Music Box idea.”
No one will ever know if this April Fool’s prank truly was the impetus for the iTunes store, but it certainly does make you think.