Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Will iTunes Be Firefoxed?

The same thing that makes tech investing great also makes it frightening. I'm talking, of course, about disruptive innovations -- breakthroughs so transforming that they shatter industry conventions on the way to producing extraordinary wealth for the disruptors and, sometimes, bankruptcy for the disrupted. This idea is so powerful that Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen wrote a best-selling book about it called The Innovator's Dilemma.

As an investor in potential Rule Breakers, I tend to be on the lookout for developments that threaten to shake the foundations of fast-moving industries. This morning, I was thinking about -- what else? -- digital music. Blame CNET (Nasdaq: CNET  ) . reporter John Borland on Thursday wrote a compelling profile of a Silicon Valley start-up arrogantly named Pioneers of the Inevitable (pinky swear).

The company, it seems, hopes to topple Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iTunes with an open-source alternative. The software -- called Songbird -- aims to take the emphasis away from a computer hard drive and toward the Web, and to design an interface that will work with a wide variety of music sites and services -- instead of just one, like, well, iTunes.

At the very least, the idea conjures images of the open-source Firefox browser and its bait and switch of a little bit of market share on Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Internet Explorer. Which, in turn, offers more than a dollop of irony. Think about it: Apple's newest jewel chipped by the same technology that's made Mr. Softy turn soft?

Maybe. But that's only if the software actually reaches the market. Apparently, lots of programming work remains. Which leaves this site and its attendant screenshots all that eager open-source geeks will be able to get their hands on.

Still, if the stock market proves anything, it's that rules are made to be broken and that leaders are born to someday be followers. Remember Compaq? How about Informix? Silicon Graphics? Apple's time is yet to come. But it will. And when it does, don't be surprised if there's a little birdie nearby whistling a merry, open-source tune.

Tune in to related Foolishness:

High tech. Biotech.Nanotech. Any tech. David Gardner and his merry band of Foolish analysts cover it all forMotley Fool Rule Breakerssubscribers. And they're profiting handsomely: The portfolio -- including CNET, a pick for the August issue -- is beating the market by more than 14% as of this writing. Get in on the action by taking a risk-free 30-day trial. Or sign up today and David will buy your copy ofStocks 2006, which includes our analysts' best picks for the year ahead. Either way, all you have to lose is the prospect of better returns.

Microsoft is aMotley Fool Inside Valueselection.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers hopes one day to borrow his wife's iPod. Yeah, we know: wishful thinking. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 498786, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/23/2016 10:45:42 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 1 day ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,145.71 -16.64 -0.09%
S&P 500 2,141.16 -0.18 -0.01%
NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/21/2016 4:00 PM
AAPL $116.60 Down -0.46 -0.39%
Apple CAPS Rating: ****
CNET.DL2 $11.49 Down +0.00 +0.00%
CNet Networks CAPS Rating: ****
GE $28.98 Down -0.09 -0.31%
General Electric CAPS Rating: ****
GOOGL $824.06 Up +2.43 +0.30%
Alphabet (A shares… CAPS Rating: *****
MSFT $59.66 Up +2.41 +4.21%
Microsoft CAPS Rating: ****