Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Steve Jobs thoughts on DRM. Nice to hear Apple's willingness to sell music without DRM, if they could, but I think his claim they would embrase it "wholeheartedly" is a bit questionable. They'd do it, but they're not thrilled about it; they're perfectly happy with the status quo, seeing as it helps cement the market dominance of the iPod/iTunes juggernaut. But perhaps they're confident that they've got the MP3 player market locked up, and maybe they figure a DRM-free store would be enough to kill off competition from Napster/Rhapsody and other subscription models (I don't think the music industry would allow unlimited downloading for a monthly fee without DRM).

The timing of this article is what I found interesting. Why would Steve Jobs post a rare open letter now? He is probably trying to deflect criticism from European governments for not licensing their FairPlay DRM technology. But I like to think that Steve Jobs has been paying attention to recent reports of a shift in the industry away from DRM, and thinks now is the time to jump on the anti-DRM bandwagon. Given Job's sense for the industry, I don't think he'd publish this letter if he didn't think there was a reasonable chance the industry would go along (maybe less than 50/50, but still a real chance). In any event, this letter makes me think that predictions that 2007 is the year the music industry ditches DRM might be plausible, after all.

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