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Warner Music chief has epiphany, praises Apple

Warner Music boss Edgar Bronfman this week conceded that the music industry is partly to blame for the proliferation of illegal music sharing and — in an apparent change of heart — suggested that his peers in the mobile industry could learn a lot from Apple.

Speaking at the GSMA Mobile Asia Congress in Macau this week, Bronfman warned mobile operators against making the same mistake that the music industry made.

"We used to fool ourselves," he said. "We used to think our content was perfect just exactly as it was. We expected our business would remain blissfully unaffected even as the world of interactivity, constant connection and file sharing was exploding. And of course we were wrong. How were we wrong? By standing still or moving at a glacial pace, we inadvertently went to war with consumers by denying them what they wanted and could otherwise find and as a result of course, consumers won."

MacUser, which reported on Bronfman's comments, said the executive told mobile operators they presently face the same risk, as fewer than 10 percent of cell phone owners buy music on their phones, and the majority of those who do are only buying ringtones.

"The sad truth is that most of what consumers are being offered today on the mobile platform is boring, banal and basic," he said. "People want a more interesting form of mobile music content. They want it to be easy to buy with a single click - yes, a single click, not a dozen. And they want access to it, quickly and easily, wherever they are. 24/7. Any player in the mobile value chain who thinks they can provide less than a great experience for consumers and remain competitive is fooling themselves."

Bronfman, who had criticized Apple in the past over its iTunes pricing model and revenue share demands, even went as far as to suggest that operators follow the Cupertino-based company's lead in simplicity and catering to the demands of consumers.

"For years now, Warner Music has been offering a choice to consumers at Apple's iTunes Store the option to purchase something more than just single tracks, which constitute the mainstay of that store's sales," he continued. "By packaging a full album into a bundle of music with ringtones, videos and other combinations and variation we found products that consumers demonstrably valued and were willing to purchase at premium prices. And guess what? We've sold tons of them. And with Apple's co-operation to make discovering, accessing and purchasing these products even more seamless and intuitive, we'll be offering many, many more of these products going forward."

The Warner Music chief went on to praise Apple for its "beautifully designed" iPhone which includes "brilliantly written software." It has a "spectacular user interface" that "throws all the accepted notions about pricing, billing platforms and brand loyalty right out the window," he said.