BBC columnist eats his crow in wake of Apple’s announcement of DRM-free iTunes

“At Monday’s press event to announce that the iTunes Music Store will be selling ‘premium’ songs from EMI’s catalogue without the copy-protection offered by the Fairplay digital rights management system, Steve Jobs noted that ‘some doubted Apple’s sincerity when we made our proposal earlier this year… they said we had too much to lose,'” Bill Thompson writes for The BBC.

Thompson writes, “That would be me, then.”

MacDailyNews Take: As if Steve Jobs even knows who Bill Thompson is; and, it wasn’t just you, Bill, there were other cynical dopes out there who didn’t (and still don’t) understand the digital device market and online music sales, either.

Thompson continues, “In February Jobs wrote that Apple would stop using DRM ‘in an instant’ if they could, and I was dismissive. ‘I don’t believe him,’ I wrote at the time, going on to argue that ‘if Apple switched off Fairplay then they would probably sell a lot more songs, on which they make very little money, and a lot fewer iPods, on which they make a lot.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Anyone who thinks DRM-free music sales will affect iPod sales, doesn’t understand why iPod sells in the first place. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from writing all about it. If each iPod on average has approximately 20 songs that were purchased from iTunes Store on its hard drive (all the rest are, of course, DRM-free; ripped from CDs and/or pirated from P2P), then iTunes Store has had very little to do with iPod sales. Selling DRM-free tracks via iTunes Store won’t negatively affect iPod sales. If anything, it will help iPod sales as iTunes Store is currently the only place to get DRM-free EMI tracks and iPods work better with iTunes and the iTunes Store than whatever devices the also-rans that remain are struggling to peddle.

Thompson writes, “EMI and Apple’s action could mark the start of the endgame for music DRM, a recognition that it can’t work and won’t work, and I approve of this.”

MacDailyNews Take: Whew, good thing Bill Thompson approves, genius that he is. And, it’s not “could,” Bill, it’s “will.”

Thompson continues, “I won’t go so far as to believe that DRM-free music market was the endgame when iTunes was first launched – at least, not until I see the internal e-mails – but it may well have been one of the scenarios that the people behind it considered… If Jobs is the man to turn the music industry away from DRM then we will all owe him a massive debt of gratitude. And today, while there is still a lot of manipulation, politicking and arm-twisting to be done, we’ve taken a small step in the right direction.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yesterday’s announcement was not a “small” step. This is EMI, not Joe Blow’s Music Co., we’re talking about. Yesterday’s step was actually quite a large leap. It was the first domino to fall. Watch and learn (something, for a change), Bill, while you eat your crow, watch and learn.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Ranu” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple: Higher quality 256 kbps AAC DRM-free music on iTunes Store coming in May – April 02, 2007
BBC columnist doesn’t believe Steve Jobs’ Apple would stop using DRM if music labels would allow it – February 12, 2007


  1. Even if Apple could sell ALL of its songs sans DRM, iTunes still wouldn’t sync with any more devices than it syncs with now. That would be stupid for Apple to allow. And I’ll bet that is why the EU will still go after Apple.

    I’d tell the EU to got to HELL!


  2. Yeh I wondered if the EU will suddenly start saying to Apple “you must make other MP3 players work with iTunes” and I think Apple have every right to tell them enough is enough and to get lost. I mean, when will it end? “You must make everything work with everything”

    Do the EU actually have any real work to do? Just asking the obvious question because no one else has. As a UK tax payer looking at the state of the planet (illegal Wars, genocide etc.), all the EU seem to be interested in is whether Apple will allow anyone to do anything with their software.

    I’d love Brussels to disappear, then maybe people would be free to choose their choice.

    MW: child. Go figure.

  3. I agree with Troy, the guy admits he was wrong, lighten up. Everyone has been wrong at some point in their life (including you MDN!) and it takes a lot of guts to stand up and admin you were wrong, especially in front of the world.

    Well done Thompson! And Shame on you MDN for ridiculing him as he admits his mistake!

  4. Yes, pricing for iTunes is different in the UK. Last I checked, the UK had not entered the EU. That’s why the Brits still use Pounds instead of the Euro. Why would the EU have anything to say about iTunes UK pricing? Pricing in the US is lower than in the EU, so what? Different markets have different pricing.

    If the record majors had their way then songs would cost more everywhere, and the more popular the song the more it would cost. It isn’t like Apple is the oil cartel artificially jacking up prices until it hurts. Can’t afford to buy music? Listen to the radio for free. Can’t afford to buy gas? Can’t get to work, the grocery store, etc. Big difference.

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