Apple’s DRM-free iTunes play trumps Microsoft’s huge bet on DRM

Apple Store“Apple’s forthcoming DRM-free music deal with EMI raises a simple question: What should Microsoft do to steal some music marketing thunder from iPod and iTunes? The EMI deal is probably something Microsoft could have announced, too. But Microsoft has DRM [digital rights management] on the brain, so to speak, as evidenced by anti-piracy mechanisms in Vista, Xbox and Zune,” Joe Wilcox writes for Microsoft-Watch.

“With the release of Windows Media 9, Microsoft made a huge bet on DRM. No question, Windows Media 9 delivered highly flexible rights management that could be used for lots of interesting marketing purposes, such as a label releasing a new album with, say, three free plays,” Wilcox writes. “But Microsoft’s bet hasn’t paid off in the market, even with so many music stores using Windows Media DRM. Apple did DRM better, by largely hiding it from music purchasers, and by making fairly easy the synchronization of DRM content with iPod. Microsoft played catch up on synchronization until the November release of Zune.”

Wilcox writes, “But Zune is heavily beholden to DRM. Music sharing—Zune’s big differentiator from iPod—requires encryption of transmitted tunes, even stuff that has no DRM. So, Zune applies rights management where it wasn’t before. Additionally, some label’s rights restrictions prevent users from sharing some music purchased from the Zune Marketplace.”

“If Microsoft is going to push ahead with a heavy DRM strategy, maybe it’s time to change the game plan. As Gartenberg’s colleague David Card writes in another blog post on the Apple-EMI deal, ‘DRM should unlock new business models, not attempt to lock down 20th century ones.’ He gives good advice,” Wilcox writes.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “LinuxGuy and Mac Prodigal Son” for the heads up.]
Good job as usual, Apple, but really now, how hard is it to outmaneuver the Titanic? We have no doubt that Steve Ballmer is out on deck rearranging the chairs again today.

How to restore DRM to iTunes Store’s DRM-free EMI tracks: Squirt it from one Zune to another (if you can find one).

If you don’t find that funny, you probably work for Microsoft.

Apple iTunes

Related articles:
Norwegian Consumer Council senior advisor applauds Apple’s iTunes Store DRM-free music – April 02, 2007
CNBC video: Apple CEO Steve Jobs and EMI Group CEO Eric Nicoli – April 02, 2007
EMI’s Nicoli on DRM-free iTunes: ‘We have to trust our consumers,’ Apple’s Jobs: ‘right thing to do’ – April 02, 2007
Kudos to Steve Jobs and Apple for having courage to call for end of DRM and making it happen – April 02, 2007
Analyst Gartenberg: iTunes Store’s DRM-free music ‘a great win for Apple’ – April 02, 2007
Apple CEO Steve Jobs to appear live on CNBC within the hour – April 02, 2007
Apple: Higher quality 256 kbps AAC DRM-free music on iTunes Store coming in May – April 02, 2007
EMI rejects Warner Music buyout bid – March 04, 2007
EMI halts talks about selling DRM-free music – February 26, 2007
Warner Music approaches EMI in possible takeover bid – February 20, 2007
Macrovision posts pro-DRM open letter to Steve Jobs and digital entertainment industry – February 16, 2007
Warner’s DRM-loving Middlebronfman warns wireless industry it may lose music market to Apple iPhone – February 14, 2007
Monster Cable announces full support of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ call for DRM-free music – February 13, 2007
BBC columnist doesn’t believe Steve Jobs’ Apple would stop using DRM if music labels would allow it – February 12, 2007
EMI may sell entire music catalog DRM-free – February 09, 2007
Recording Industry Association of America wants their DRM, calls for Apple to license FairPlay – February 08, 2007
Warner’s Middlebronfman: Jobs’ DRM-free music call ‘without logic and merit, we’ll not abandon DRM’ – February 08, 2007
Technology Review editor gets a lot wrong in his article about Apple CEO Jobs’ push to end DRM – February 07, 2007
Apple’s Jobs jolts music industry; Zune exec calls Jobs’ call for DRM-free music ‘irresponsible’ – February 07, 2007
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ posts rare open letter: ‘Thoughts on Music’ – calls for DRM-free music – February 06, 2007


  1. MS is just plain nuts about DRM. They will never have enough of it. If they could convince the population to pay a “log-in” fee every time their Windows booted up, MS would do it in a heartbeat.

  2. Found this post on a stock site:

    Remember… we ain’t seen nothing yet… there is an enormous amount
    of cool stuff coming out from Apple in the next few months. When the
    iPhone hits the street, the audience of many, many people who have
    never bought or watched AAPL will suddenly have AAPL fever. We on this
    forum obsessively watch AAPL and know what prices could have been had
    and when. People will buy stock at $125 when they see the phone and
    not care that is was at $10 once or $85 a few weeks ago. The end of
    2006 and beginning of 2007 is really the first time Apple has been so
    highly regarded in the financial press and so recommended as a buy.
    Apple has an enormous amount of headroom for growth beyond the current

    * starting to encroach on the Windows market
    * wow factor of Leopard graphics engine – look at demo on –
    offers a whole new way to view data that the world has never seen
    before. think of the way the Tom Cruise character in Minority Report
    was able to sift through data visually… it’s about that cool… with
    Leopard and boot camp + iPhone/AppleTV/iTunes/iPod Halo effect there
    is the distinct possibility for us to see a distinct tipping point
    shifting momentum to apple and away from windows.
    * iPhone – huge new revenue stream for apple – will beat expectations
    – cingular/at&t already had 1,000,000 inquiries – the PR from the
    iPhone will drive enormous amounts of traffic to Apple site and store
    at same time as next generation OS
    * iTunes Store Video – will be a big new revenue stream – add value
    with studio deals.
    * iTunes Store audio – EMI deal is huge and meaningful – EMI dropping
    DRM for higher quality 256kbps/higher priced song choice is huge –
    someone at EMI is thinking.
    * New Apple Stores around the world – highest $$$ per square foot +
    enormous amount of iPhone PR come june means everyone sees Leopard too.

  3. Quote from Steve Ballmer about this subject:


    Sorry, he can’t talk now, since he and the rest of MicroSuck has its lips around the c#$#s of content producers since the Zune and Vista came out.

    When the content executives-ahem-finish, Ballmer will towel his face and chin off, make a delusional statement about how DRM is good for consumers, and go throw chairs at his subordinates.

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