07 February 2007

People seem to think that the reason that the iPod is so popular is that folks are somehow 'locked in' to using it because they've bought stuff on iTunes that won't work with any music player that uses Windows Media Format files, nor will it play any files bought on an online store that sells Windows Media Format files.

Steve Jobs, who presides over Apple's iPod/iTunes empire, has published an open letter asking the record industry to stop using DRM -- digital rights management -- to 'protect' their assets by limiting their use. If they dropped DRM, he'd convert the whole iTunes system 'in a heartbeat.' (And it has to be said that the way DRM is implemented in their system, it could be dropped quickly.)

It's great to see a call for openness from an industry leader! So are the various consumer groups angling for open rights going to rally around this call, and even if they cynically think Steve is bluffing, work to call his bluff? Are they after open rights or are they after Apple's blood? Torgier Waterhouse of the Norwegian Consumer Council has replied and missed the opportunity to work with Apple to open up the record company's attitudes, instead continuing to treat Apple as the enemy. Sad. (See also former Microsoft employee Robert Scoble's blog.)

ADDITION: This is no change of tactic for His Steveness. In an interview almost five years ago (!), back when the iPod was accused of fostering piracy, he'd argued that the record companies need to loosen their grip: 'If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own.' The interview is still online at MacWorld. [Thanks, Mark]
This blog is closed now. I've moved to http://gempf.com