Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Steve Jobs' Revolution Begins

Time for the update, but before I go on, I would hardly consider myself to be an Apple fan boy, as a matter of fact I have always criticised the way that the iTunes music store has been so severely crippled by DRM. (for those of you who are confused about DRM check out our iPhone vs. iPhone = iTunes for an explanation.)

Right now I am utterly impressed by Steve Jobs. There has never been a point where I have denied that the man is a genius but I will admit that I had started to think that Apple's profits had gotten to him and that he was losing the innovator qualities which he always possessed. (anyone who is not familiar with what he has accomplished go read a biography of him because it's well worth it.)

Today Steve Jobs fortified his stance as a true innovator and utilised all his power to do so. In short he gave a little introduction of DRM on not only iTunes but any music playing device or software. He went on to offering three solutions to the DRM problem. 1) To continue down the current path (which Mr. Jobs clearly points out that it does not work) 2) For Apple to liscence its FairPlay DRM (Steve Jobs admits that it sounds appealing on the surface but all security issues an coordinating responses would turn out to be very costly if not virtually impossible. 3)Abolish DRM all together.

I can think of no better way to explain it then the way that Steve Jobs did himself;

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.

We will await the industries response and I will report as soon as I hear anything.

In any case Steve, you might have just given your most significant contribution to this world. For a man with contributions as big as Steve Jobs, that says a lot about its magnitude.

Check here for original post by Steve Jobs!


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