The H-Bomb (Apple/HP iPod deal)
The Digital Music Platform Computer industry platforms exist at very different levels. For example, “Linux” is a very low-level platform — it’s just a Unix-like operating system kernel that can boot computers and provide access to hardware peripherals. KDE and Gnome are desktop GUI platforms that are built on top of the Linux platform. Tivo is another GUI platform, entirely different than a “desktop”, but also built on top of Linux.
Mac OS X and Windows encompass both these layers — low-level operating system kernels that boot computers and control hardware, and high-level graphical human interfaces for users (and APIs for developers to build their own apps).
I think that what Apple has built, with their three-pronged iPod/iTunes/iTMS, is an even higher-level platform, specifically for digital music (and perhaps in the future, digital media).
Platforms exist for different reasons. Low level platforms are perfect for certain tasks. If you run a high-traffic commercial web site, your servers might run nothing but low-level software. Just Linux or BSD, along with software built for Unix-like platforms: Apache, Perl, PHP, MySQL. No GUIs. No desktops. Just servers running low-level software, very quickly, and very reliably.