How much is your freedom worth?
2007-04-02 18:15:02 GMT
I read via [a Public Knowledge blog post] that Apple is [going to sell music from a major label in a non-DRM'd format]. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, software that restricts what your computer will let you do with music you typically have paid for. For example, the DRM on the iTunes Music Store prevents synchronizing full-quality files to portable music players other than the iPod. As a consumer, you can now pay $0.99 for a DRM'd song or $0.30 more ($1.29) for a DRMless version with higher audio quality (bitrate). You can also up-convert your music for $0.30. During these approx. four years of iPod + iTunes Music Store dominance, I always thought that Apple had built their empire on the lock-in between the music store and the portable player. So this move surprised me (I checked the date - April 2, not April Fool's). This is a very different approach to the music industry than we saw with Microsoft and the Zune, and I'd say this looks very hopeful. The Zune, Microsoft's portable music player, seemed to be a a pushover for the DRM folks; Microsoft [gives about a dollar per Zune sold to Universal], a major label. That's money handed to Universal for doing absolutely nothing. And the Zune has the famous "squirting" feature which provides very restricted music sharing, adding restrictions to any song you share. This isn't the first time EMI has played with selling music online without digital restrictions. Late 2006, they distributed a Nora Jones song [in the standard MP3 format] on both the Yahoo! music store and eMusic (a company I personally buy music from). The way I see it, Steve Jobs is performing a market experiment. What do consumers think their freedom is worth?(Continue reading)