Its been rumoured on a number of sites now that Itunes will be dropping DRM. Well hurrah if they do. Lets quickly go through the pros, and cons of this decision.
From Apple’s perspective they loose a reason to buy an IPOD or to keep buying an IPOD. Traditionally music bought was tied into that piece of hardware. It would not play on anything else
Music which is exclusive to the Apple’s, Itunes Store can be copied and shared with as much ease as any other material.
For the last two years, people have been able to buy music, legally, without DRM from a number of players in the market. That music would work on an IPOD. So Apple’s business model had actually become a barrier to them growing the Ipod market, as consumers would soon become use to the idea of music download interoperability (remember in the early years, Apple were not the only company with closed DRM).
It should also be noted that the Ipod has now grown beyond its original functionality. Its now a phone, a games machine and slowly becoming a business smart phone which is competing with Blackberry. Hence, there are lots of different ways Apple can make sure it still has content exclusively tied to its hardware by having the best business applications and games to play (adapted uniquely to its hardware).
Apple still has the Itunes store, and for many that is of value in itself. The Apple hardware, with a dedicated ’streamlined’ (some people think that the Itunes Software needs a MAJOR makeover) software application for purchasing and managing content is a major plus. There are still very few competitors with a fully joined up experience such as Apple’s (Sony are slooooooowly getting there with their PS3 and PSP platforms).
All we need is the record labels to allow Apple to lift DRM across its entire catalogue. Does this mean Apple was always telling the truth when they said it was the Record Companies that forced DRM on them? Well I suspect, that yes, in their continual fear of anything which is not some form of physical distribution system they did insist on DRM. However, I reckon that Apple then saw how they could make it proprietary and use it as a way of making sure no one could ride their success in developing the Ipod platform.
That market reality has now gone, and now we look forward to a world where, music at least, has no locks on it. The question remains will the Movie Industry follow suite and also allow Apple to unlock the films and tv shows? That would be superb boost to the world of legal digital content, and would result in many more people embracing it.
After all EMI recently stated that since they had lifted DRM via a number of download sites they had not seen an increase in illegal sharing. Those that want to break the law always will, and for the rest of us, if the price is right, if we feel we own the content and can use it across all our hardware without being punished - well we always buy it.
After all we can STILL buy it on CD/DVD and rip it with ease. If companies were THAT concerned with stopping Piracy they would have stopped making CDs and DVDs by now!