Apple: The Microsoft of the Music Market

I have been a longtime user and supporter of the Apple platform for obvious reasons. But the statement they issued today is the nastiest thing I ever heard from them in a long time. The background is that Real Networks has reengineered Apple‘s DRM format “FairPlay” and that way has achieved compatibility with the music sold via Real‘s store and Apple‘s iPod.

We are stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod and we are investigating the implications of its actions under the DMCA and other laws

Shame on you, Apple! What‘s wrong with hacker‘s ethics? What‘s wrong with hackers in general? This is the good old game the media plays with hackers for a long time and now Apple hums their song.

Apple was happy to be able to capture momentum in the media and the lead in market share with the iPod device, which is a good but not a great product. The strong link between the iTunes Music Store and the iPod might be good for Apple but being the seller of content and the seller of devices is the same dilemma Sony faced when selling DVD players while owning a Hollywood production studio. The iPod is limited in it‘s technical abilities to secure sales at the iTunes Music Store (“which doesn‘t make money”). For instance, the iPod is unable to play files in OGG format and you can‘t easily share your music just using the device.

Apple can‘t win. The path they are taking now is going to hurt their position in the hacker and open source scene. The adoption of Open Source for parts of their OS, the support for the community: everything is going to fade away while people will be “stunned” watching Apple wielding the sword of DRM and DMCA. They should know better. Mr. Jobs himself told the public that he conviced the record companies by pointing out that you can‘t really prevent copying of music. Now Apple has to understand that they will lose being the “Microsoft of the music market”.

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