I will preface this article with full disclosure: I am what many would consider a “Mac hater”. I do not own a single Apple product (no small feat I assure you) and am outspoken in my opposition of Apple. The main area of my displeasure has always been the iPod/iTunes monopoly, so yesterdays Phil-note at MacWorld was of considerable interest to me for a couple reasons.
When this note came across my live stream I double checked the carbon monoxide detector to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating (ok, that’s a little exagerration since my office doesn’t have a CO detector). Then it sank in that Apple was indeed fatally wounding the much maligned DRM. No longer will users have to complain about not being able to transfer their songs from one device to another. Hallelujah, I thought.
Ahhh, the Catch
I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought until a very good post by Erick over at TechCrunch that gave a little perspective. He brought up the point that all the current songs you iTunes using suckers have now can be “upgraded” to non-DRM, but only if you pay $0.30/track. That may seem like a small price to pay for DRM-free songs, but this means $1.8 BILLION dollars will be collected to remove DRM from current iTunes songs. And you can guarantee that the music industry will be getting a few hundred million of those dollars for their “gracious allowance”.
Also, don’t forget that we now know who really runs the digital music business and it isn’t the labels. Apple has now demonstrated their full power by forcing the major labels to bow before their superior music selling machine, iTunes. No doubt this is a watershed moment in the industry since now everyone knows that Apple is more powerful than all the labels combined due to their 75 million credit cards on file and 6 billion downloads to date.