Guess What, Steve -- I Don't Love It (Remix) - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
4/4/2007
06:08 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
50%
50%

Guess What, Steve -- I Don't Love It (Remix)

Over the years I have received my share of e-mail calling me an idiot, but I never got more than I've gotten for yesterday's blog entry titled "Guess What, Steve, I Don't Love It." And guess what? In this case I deserve it. I try, as a personal goal, to reply to all the e-mail I get from readers that doesn't contain obscenities, and the more mail I answered today about my commentary on Apple's announcement of DRM-free music, the more trouble I had defending it.

Over the years I have received my share of e-mail calling me an idiot, but I never got more than I've gotten for yesterday's blog entry titled "Guess What, Steve, I Don't Love It." And guess what? In this case I deserve it. I try, as a personal goal, to reply to all the e-mail I get from readers that doesn't contain obscenities, and the more mail I answered today about my commentary on Apple's announcement of DRM-free music, the more trouble I had defending it.To all the Apple fanboys who wrote to say how ignorant it was call AAC an Apple-proprietary format, I agree with you. I'd prefer to say it was sloppy, but no matter how fast I write I shouldn't get that sloppy. To all the gearheads who wrote to tell me I should get a player that plays AAC files, I agree with you, too. I've got one, actually -- it's an iPod -- and AAC also is available as an upgrade for my preferred player, a Palm LifeDrive.

I've worked with MP3 files for so long I've lost track of what else might be out there.

To everybody who couldn't understand how I could possibly say anything negative about iTunes, on the other hand, I'm not giving an inch. I think you're locked up inside a prison -- it may seem like a very comfortable place to you, but from the outside it looks like something entirely different to me. The iPod, iTunes on your computer, and the iTunes store are a closed system, designed to keep you captive. I see AAC and iTunes as . . . not exactly a DRM system, as I said to a couple of people in e-mails, but something nearly that restrictive. (On the other hand, you've made it clear that I've built my own closed system, too.)

I still don't love the EMI-Apple announcement, either. EMI may have seen the light on DRM, but it's treated me like a thief instead of a customer for so long that it will take me a while to get over it. And the new pricing isn't any help. If DRM-free albums are the same price as DRM-protected albums, why are DRM-free single tracks $1.29 while DRM-protected tracks are still 99 cents? I'm not buying the rhetoric about unprotected AAC files being higher quality so they're worth the higher price. If that's true, then album prices should be higher, too.

Does this mean, in fact, that album prices are going to be higher -- that in a couple of months we'll wake up and find new releases are one price and old catalog albums are another price? Probably. That's the way it works in the real world, and from what I've read, Steve Jobs just managed to hold the line on single-tier pricing the last time Apple's deals with the record companies came up for renewal.

If Jobs got DRM-free music and traded a price hike for it, as some of my correspondents have suggested, then he should 'fess up rather than hide behind "it's better quality." And if EMI wanted the price hike because it's trying to offset expected future drops in revenue, then it hasn't stopped calling me a thief, and I still say it's charging me a penalty for being honest.

Or maybe it's a convenience fee? A lot of the comments to the original post couldn't understand why I was so worked up about getting AAC instead of MP3. Couldn't I just reformat them to whatever I wanted? Sure, but I've got my Mr. Cranky Consumer hat on here. My guess is the vast majority of iPod owners can just barely manage to buy a file and get it onto their iPod. Reformat files? Why not just sell me what I want, or better yet, let me download an MP3 file later if I need one -- or download all my AAC files on a different computer? After all, the iTunes store knows what I paid for. (And don't even get me started on fair use, which I think even EMI would like to do away with tomorrow if it could.)

I'm not one of those people who think Apple should license out it's FairPlay DRM (which is proprietary, I'm pretty sure of that). I agree with Jobs that it's not his responsibility be an industry policeman, and I think no DRM at all is better. But I want EMI and the other labels -- and Apple -- to work with me to make it easy to be honest. They way things are now, it's easier to be dishonest.

Bottom line: Am I excited about the opportunity to pay more for music just because it's finally starting to come in an open format the way it should have come all along? No, I am not.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
10 Top Cloud Computing Startups
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  8/3/2020
Commentary
How Enterprises Can Adopt Video Game Cloud Strategy
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  7/28/2020
Commentary
Conversational AI Comes of Age
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  8/7/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Special Report: Why Performance Testing is Crucial Today
This special report will help enterprises determine what they should expect from performance testing solutions and how to put them to work most efficiently. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll