Few thoughts regarding apple:
Like Leo said in this week’s TwiM, Apple is headed for anti-trust problems in the not-too distant future. They simply control too much of the online music market in a way that does not allow competition- for manufacturers, software companies or even record labels. With that said, the seamless integration of the iPod and the iTMS is of course a beautiful thing, and the DRM that Apple has tied to it is sadly part of that equation. In a perfect world we would be buying DRM-free tracks from all of the music stores and using them where we want them and when we want them. This will never happen on a larger scale than what e-music and companies like it are doing now.
So say a *more* level playing field is inevitable. How does Apple stay on top? Mark my words: Apple is waiting for the fast few seconds before the anti-trust shit hits the fan and then they’re going to start licensing their Fairplay DRM to one and all. They’ll still have iPods, they’ll still have the iTMS, but now they’ll have real comptetitors in Real, Napster and the like. But how is it fair if they are charging for a license? Well, it isn’t but the only reason Microsoft is giving away (for all intents and purposes) their own Windows Media DRM is because they can afford to due to their continuing monopoly on OS and Office software. Once Fairplay is being licensed, the ball could well be in Apple’s court as Microsoft will be acting downright anticompetetive with their giving away technology it cost them millions to develop. Then we can see whether or not the “cool” factor really is what sells iPods. (It is.)
Which brings me to a future blog post: Why is Microsoft going the exact same route with Virtualization that they did with Netscape? VMWare is countering them for now, but how can they last on free software alone?