NY Times: ‘Apple seems to hold most of the cards’ in digital online music

“Apple uses proprietary software, called FairPlay, to keep you from making illegal copies of the songs you download from the iTunes Music Store. Apple has steadfastly refused to license this software to RealNetworks. In late July, RealNetworks introduced a software called Harmony, which allows its music to be played on an iPod. In other words, RealNetworks mimics Apple’s software without licensing it. Litigation will surely ensue,” The New York Times writes.

“It would be better for consumers if Apple began licensing its digital rights management software, only because the iTunes Music Store will not be able to lock up access to all the copyrighted music in the world,” The New York Times writes. “But RealNetworks’ contention that Apple is stifling freedom of choice is self-serving. You can play music from any CD on an iPod, once it has been digitally copied, and the device works on PC’s and Macs. Some critics like to argue that Apple is making the same mistake that it made by not licensing its operating system back in the 1980’s. At the moment, Apple seems to hold most of the cards.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Will Apple’s ‘go it alone’ strategy turn iPod into the next Mac? – April 15, 2004
Apple hold keys to online music kingdom with iTunes Music Store – June 21, 2004


  1. “But RealNetworks’ contention that Apple is stifling freedom of choice is self-serving. You can play music from any CD on an iPod, once it has been digitally copied, and the device works on PC’s and Macs…”

    Finally some words of intelligence (from a major news source)

  2. Yes a very even-handed opinion. They make a point to tell readers that you don’t only have to buy songs from either iTMS or Real to use an iPod. You can download your CD collection. This seems to be lost in all the comments made in the press. I suspect that more people download their CD collections into iTunes and then on to their iPods (both PC and Mac Users), then buy songs from iTMS. All the download services combined are minisule in sales compared to brick and mortar or mail order sales of CDs.

  3. I guarantee that the majority of users either rip their own CDs or download their music from P2P networks. The overwhelming majority don’t care (yet anyway) about buying music online. When new iPod buyers see that their only *online* option happens to also be the best online service, I doubt many will have any problems with the situation. Nobody is exclusively locked into the iTMS as their only source of music for the iPod anyway. To say anything else (are you listening M$ and Real?) is nothing more than FUD.

  4. It just hit me, the real battle is not about players but what software people begin to use. Geeks, myself included, have had their CD collections ripped for several years using various jukebox programs. However, the battle is on for the general public.

    I think it is safe to say that if john doe & family rip their CDs they are only going to do it once as it is such a major undertaking. MS, Real, Napster & others realize if folks rip their Cd collections into iTunes in AAC then those folks are likely lost as future customer for them. They are simply using the iPod “choice” issue to attempt to get people to use WMA or Real to rip their CDs.

    If we’ve learned anything about windows users is that once they have adopted something they are unlikely to switch. So, if we get them all using iTunes on their crappy windows boxes it is unlikely they’ll switch to WMA or Real. Conversely, if they start in WMA or Real it may be tough to get them to try iTunes.

  5. Apple may hold the cards for now but is about to get crushed by Microsoft’s music store.


    Of course, everyone has an opinion.


    I don’t agree with the author. Are most songs on your iPod legal? Here’s poll results. Surprising.


    BTW – I like that site.

  6. Apple has to licence fairplay by the end of the year!

    If they don’t microsoft will dominate the music market too.


  7. Another battle Apple is going to face here is that Microsoft only need a tiny amount of forward momentum to get a huge amount of positive press – ie negative, damaging, press for Apple. As stories go, the media are well up for a new slant on the ‘online music battle’ – the months of positive iTMS/iPod news is beginning to wear thin.

    Imagine the headlines:
    “Microsoft catching up with iTMS… is this the end for Apple?”

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