The Fellowship of the Apple

The Apple-powered market

We all knew this for a very long time: Apple is one strong name, brand and whatever you might want. A valiant rival for Microsoft and even former rival of other giants such as Intel and AMD, Apple has grown to become a trend setter not only in what computers are concerned but in trends and social behaviors as well.

The immense influence this company has on our lives was best seen during the last 2 weeks, after its CEO and co-founder, Steve Jobs, has made a public statement in the shape of an essay on Digital Rights Management and the way he and Apple Inc. see DRM's future.

It's very interesting to observe how much influence can some words have on the planetary music industry; after all, the iTunes service developed and owned by Apple Inc. has changed itself the "face" of the world along with the Apple's other wonder, the now almost ubiquitous iPod.

Of course they did not act by themselves as the major 4 record companies (EMI, SonyBMG, Warner and Universal) have taken full advantage of them: actually they insisted that if iTunes wants them to license music for online sale, this music must be protected by means of the (now dying) DRM.

And so it was, because Apple Inc. were bound by a 15-year contract with Beatles' Apple Corps not to sale music on physical media. The day the contract expired, Jobs made a decisive declaration of war against the DRM: Apple was willing to give up the rights management system and start selling music which would play on any portable device, not only on Apple's proprietary iPods.

This was the spark which triggered the blast in the industry: Yahoo, in the voice of the Yahoo Music head, Mr. Goldman, announced DRM-free music by Christmas, EMI has "tested" DRM-free distribution much to their most pleasant surprise result while SanDisk is officially willing to back up this movement at any cost and against anyone.

Apart from the remaining three major companies, the only ones who could make a stand are the RIAA. So far, they have issued only a crappy release, intendedly misinterpreting Jobs' words and hailing what they claimed it would be the licensing of the FairPlay code (the DRM-essence) to many other companies... in other words, extending the DRM to an even larger scale.

I laughed a lot as I was reading the stupid comments of RIAA and seeing the way they are still stubborn and believe in the complete eradication of the music piracy, a thing no one thinks of as possible any more. One thing is sure: 2007 will be a hell of a year and still, there are many things to be seen in this duel, the DRM wars aren't by far over!

Microsoft has already released a new kind of DRM but for the mobile field, the PlayReady, embraced so far by big names in the business such as O2, Verizon, Telefonica, Cingular or the recent AT&T.

Still, there is expected the position the remaining three "major" will place themselves on... yet I guess the end of the DRM-era is already here: behind the first courageous ones to make a move against DRM is the key-factor in this "equation" - the huge number of consumers who really hate the DRM system!

Nevertheless, the "fellowship of the Apple" was born and so far it has made quite a promising advance in its road to a DRM-free market. What remains is to just sit back and watch who and when is going to join in, because it's obvious that there will be lots of new supporters with each passing month. Bye-bye, DRM!


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