I know that I’m supposed to be falling all over myself to shower Steve Jobs with praise over his recent open letter to the music industry on the future of DRMed music. It’s extremely tempting to read it as the modern version of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Some have called it Jobs’ “first blog post” but let’s get serious. Jobs actually blogging in a real, honest to goodness manner is about as likely as Rex Grossman winning a Grammy. Anyway, I don’t actually think Jobs is acting in any sort of altruistic manner. Yes, he wants the user experience to be better and wants music interoperability to be open for all. But that’s all an effort to increase Apple’s marketshare of both the online music and digital music player markets.

If the music labels were to drop their DRM requirements in not only the iTunes Store but others as well, more people will buy iPods since they won’t be locked into competing players that only work with competing stores. And by putting up this letter, Jobs has made himself look like the hero of the working man, a position that it’s hoped will bring more shoppers to iTunes.

I applaud Jobs calling the record labels out like this but wish that more people would apply the same natural skepticism toward his big pronouncement and announcements that they would if, say, Bill Gates had said all this.

2 Comments

  1. Jobs, DRM and the Record Labels: It’s a Finger-Pointing Festival!

    Of course we’re excited about Steve Jobs saying that he’d love to offer all of us free music on iTunes, but the record labels have his hands tied with their DRM schemes. (All kinds of reports on that here and here.)…

  2. I agree, Jobs is definitely wanting to dump DRM to expand the market, but the thing is, why isn’t the music industry wanting the same thing?

    I still say that the ‘Big Four’ are marketing music as if it were a luxury item, instead of a commodity. They want complete control over what forms the music is sold in, what channels it is distributed via, and higher prices.

    I think dropping DRM would cut into Apple’s market share a bit, but it would expand the market by enough to more than make up for the loss in share. Jobs knows this. But in this case, it appears that’s what’s best for Apple, is also best for the industry as a whole.

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