Friday, January 12, 2007

Why DRM's best friend might just be Apple Inc.:

Yes, there are plenty of signs that DRM as we know it is changing, perhaps even withering on the warm California grapevine where it's been growing for so long. Yahoo has conducted several experiments in the last year, selling MP3-encoded versions of selected popular songs. The Sony rootkit debacle showed the general public what a bad idea some of these schemes could be. Every P2P company still in existence seems to be moving towards some kind of paid-downloads model, and some hope to do this without adding DRM. And Amazon is rumored to be eyeing the online music store market, but only if it can offer MP3s (though recall that Amazon's last attempt at whipping iTunes, its Unbox music service has hardly managed to unseat the leader). Et cetera, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

And while it's certainly possible that the music labels will collectively find salvation like a late-70's Dylan, we're (reluctantly) going on record with the opposite prediction: it ain't going to happen in 2007. Sure, there will be plenty of experimenting. Labels have certainly realized that DRM isn't the answer to their many woes, and with declining overall album sales, they'll be more willing to take chances. Great! But there's a powerful force standing in the way of this DRM-free panacea, and it might not be the one you expect: Apple, Inc.

12:05 PM