Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We Have a Winner

We have a winner in the fight for control over DRM, and it is no one.

For those of you who long ago sold your soul to Apple, bought an iPod, downloaded iTunes and don't even know what DRM is, here's a quick explanation. Remember how the music industry whined like babies when Napster was around? You would have thought that someone had invented a way to tape radio, remember how that killed the music industry? Anyway, what techies did to allow themselves to sell music online in spite of Napster's court losses is add DRM. I don't know if you've ever tried this, but try to open that new Toby Keith song you just bought on iTunes with your Windows Media Player. That error you get, that's DRM. Technically it's supposed to keep you from giving the song to a friend, but practically it limits interoperability.

That's no problem for you, but your not a nerd like me. I want my music to work on my iPod, my Zune (like an iPod but made by Microsoft), my Media Center (a computer connected to my TV for music and video) and in my car (Nav System with a hard drive). Consequently, I wasn't going to buy songs with either Apple's or Microsoft's DRM until all of my systems could play the music.

Apparently there are enough of us nerds around because over the last couple months DRM has been fading. First Amazon opened up a DRM-free store then eMusic expanded, and now Walmart has an online store with DRM-free music. That means it's over. Remember how long it took Toshiba to give up on HD-DVD after Walmart announced they were going to carry blu-rays? About a week. Sure, Apple will continue to carry DRMed music for a little while till everyone realizes they can get it cheeper elsewhere, but for all intents and purposes DRM is dead.

Next up, Apple's cornering and DRMing of the TV Show market.

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