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Why Apple Likes DRM

from the this-is-my-football dept

There’s a lot that’s been said lately about how Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox 360 video game console will be compatible with the iPod — sort of. Users will be able to hook their iPods up to the 360’s USB port and listen to anything on the hard drive, as long it’s not music they’ve bought from iTunes, since, of course, Apple wouldn’t license its Fairplay DRM to Microsoft. This is a manifestation of how Apple’s used DRM to become so powerful in the music space. While it projects an image that it’s just using DRM to placate the record labels, Apple benefits immensely from the lock-in to its products that its refusal to license the DRM provides. It affords Apple the control to determine what hardware people can use to listen to their music, and make sure it’s only devices that it approves and from which it profits (and conversely, make sure the only place people with iPods can buy music is from iTunes). Apple’s responded angrily to other attempts by companies to force their way into the iPod because it threatens their control, and one analyst predicts Apple will upgrade iPod software after the Xbox 360 release to break the compatibility. This isn’t an argument for free music or in support of piracy; it simply illustrates how the record labels’ insistence on DRM has put Apple at the top of the food chain. If the labels would insist their music be distributed without DRM, it would blow away all of this lock-in, resulting in a much more competitive environment both for digital audio players and for music downloads — and it might even let them raise prices, something Apple — and its power — won’t let them do.

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Comments on “Why Apple Likes DRM”

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dan says:

ipod drm

I get your point on the apple/drm. In this case they are no different from any other proponent of drm. But, what about products like this the Denon S301. I own it and it’s great. Plug in the ipod and I can play (all songs) from the system, controling it via the remote and picking songs from the TV. It even has it’s own blog (http://blog.denon.com/s301_101/). Did denon bow to the apple drm gods or is there another way around it?

Al says:

And How Would You Protect the Music w/o DRM

I’m just again curious seeing that your article puts such a negative light on yet another one of Apple’s products, exactly how would you do it differently? Am I supposed to feel sorry for Microsoft, when seeing that this company has hurt innovation in the high tech industry for the past two decades? Who wants to play their music through an Xbox anyway? Use an amplifier.

Matt Brummett says:

One solution to Apple's "DRM Dominance"

I can understand Apple’s unwillingness to provide Microsoft with it’s Fairplay DRM rights because, afterall, it’s Apple’s choice to opt out of inter-operability, which only hurts it’s current and potential new customer base. This said, if you don’t like it, complain to them. If they don’t fix it, STOP using their service. There is an ABUNDANCE of competition out there and it will take a little wake-up call like this to humble the Giant.

Gil Manalo says:

Re: you guys will hate me

I am taking up a job in Redmond, Washington. There, I will be working for the almighty “the man’ Microsoft. While I was there interviewing, I discovered that all thirty guys in this particular design group own and love their iPods. I spent a week being whined and dined at that time. Each night a different person took me out. All anyone there can talk about is the superior design and marketing done by Apple.

-92% of the handheld music market.
-78% of all professionally recorded music today is done on an Apple
– 98% of professional muic artist support iTunes over any other
-resistance is futile

Is anyone talking about how evil MS word, excel or powerpoint is? That’s right. We love these products too. Long live the evil empires of the world!

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