InformationWeek blows it: calls AAC Apple’s closed format

Apple Store“‘We think our customers are going to love this,’ said Steve Jobs in Apple’s press release yesterday announcing that its iTunes store would sell DRM-free versions of EMI’s music catalog. Wrong. I like it, but, please, Steve, stop doing me favors that (1) raise music prices 30% and (2) force me to take the extra steps to remove your AAC encoding,” David DeJean blogs for InformationWeek.

“You got part of it right, Steve. I definitely do not want DRM. I want the music I pay for to play anywhere, on any device. I want to exercise my legal rights to fair use and move it from format to format — from vinyl to cassette to CD to MP3 to whatever comes next,” DeJean writes. “But I definitely do not want the music I buy encoded in your AAC format, either, or locked up inside of your iTunes software. My favorite audio player software does not play AAC. My portable music player does not play AAC. I do not use iTunes to manage my music.”

DeJean writes, “If you really want to make me a loyal Apple customer, then sell me DRM-free music in an open format at a fair price. Exactly why do you think the 30% premium for DRM-free files is fair, by the way? Why should I, a solid citizen who wants to do the right thing, have to pay a penalty for my honesty?”

Full article here.

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

MacDailyNews Take: The hits just keep on coming! Seems more than one village has let loose their idiots to cover this topic in the past few days. David, perhaps if you used iTunes to manage your music, you’d realize that AAC not Apple’s closed format and that iTunes will convert DRM-free tracks to AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, your beloved, but old and inefficient MP3, and/or WAV. You are in no way locked into iTunes, beyond using its iTunes Store interface to purchase your songs. Also, if you read EMI’s press release before banging out your goofy blog post, you’d realize that the tracks are higher quality, hence the higher price, and also that complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price.

MacDailyNews Obligatory Note: EMI’s DRM-free music sold via Apple’s iTunes Store will be in Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format. AAC is the successor to MP3 and is supported by iPod and also a wide variety of digital music players, including also-ran devices such as the SanDisk Sansa e200R, Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), Sony Walkman S series (and A and E series with firmware update), Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung, BenQ-Siemens, Philips, Nokia Nseries and other Nokia multimedia phones, Palm OS PDAs, even the hapless Microsoft Zune, among others. More about AAC here.

MacDailyNews Note [4/4, 2:54pm EDT]: DeJean has since updated his article with the correction: When I originally posted this entry I called the AAC format “proprietary.” Almost immediately several of the commenters below and in emails called me on it. You’re all right. AAC is not Apple proprietary and I should have known better. I quickly apologized in a comment (see it somewhere below) and removed the offending misstatement from the entry. I wrote in haste, because that is the nature of blogging, and I repent at leisure.

Contacts:
David DeJean:
Tom Smith, Editor In Chief, Online:

Related articles:
Red Herring reporter is quite confused about MP3 vs. AAC – April 03, 2007
JupiterResearch analyst blows it: ‘AAC isn’t supported by majority of digital music players’ – April 03, 2007
Apple’s DRM-free EMI deal ‘a master stroke that should cement Apple’s dominance’ – April 03, 2007
In Apple’s DRM-free EMI music deal, the big loser may be Microsoft – April 03, 2007
Apple’s DRM-free iTunes play trumps Microsoft’s huge bet on DRM – April 02, 2007
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
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Analyst Gartenberg: iTunes Store’s DRM-free music ‘a great win for Apple’ – April 02, 2007
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45 Comments

  1. We don’t need no education.
    We don’t need no thought control.
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
    Teacher, leave those kids alone.
    Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!
    All in all its just another brick in the wall.
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.

    We don’t need no education.
    We don’t need no thought control.
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
    Teachers, leave those kids alone.
    Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.

  2. Sent to the InfoWeek editors:

    In regards to “Guess What, Steve — I Don’t Love It”, by By David DeJean, Info Week failed to live up to the standard I have come to expect from you.

    Simply put, AAC is also know as MP4, the improved successor to the well known MP3. MP4 is better compression, and is free of some of the licensing issues that are involved with MP3.

    AAC is not DRM. From Apple, their DRM is FairPlay.

    Many other brands of “MP3” players support AAC, including Microsoft’s Zune.

    In short, Mr. DeJean should apologize to the readers for spreading such blather, and to you, his employers, for bringing such embarassment on what I had always considered to be a reputable publication.

  3. ” from vinyl to cassette to CD to MP3 to whatever comes next.”

    Am I mistaken? Isn’t AAC actually mp4? 4, which comes “next” after 3?!

    AAC is mpeg4, which is the next step and superior to mp3. Am i right?

    Flame ’em!!!

  4. Nice letter!

    And thanks for answering my question before I was able to ask it, too! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

    Hopefully, they’ll publish a retraction or something.
    Typhoon

  5. What kind of a teabagger uses some off brand crappy mp3 player? And notice how he talks about “fair price”, as if his definition of the word is a definite mathematically perfect number. As if 99 cents is the magically true and correct price for a single song.

    But really, I’ve never had any sympathy for the complaints of these idiots that use el cheapo mp3 players. Basically, they’re cheap bastards that don’t understand that you get what you pay for.

  6. A penalty of 30% for DRM free music? What a jerk. Apple saw the writing on the wall. 1. A growing movement against DRM; and 2. A growing movement by the record industry to gain more profits from digital music sales.

    Someone such as myself, that views Jobs as a very good strategist – might be so cynical as to believe that Jobs leveraged the additional 30% to allow EMI to earn more, in exchange for DRM free music. Each gave something they didn’t really want to give. But will either lose anything? Most likely not. They will likely both gain more market for their respective products.

  7. I try to be fair and not flame people, but this guy is just asking to be smacked.

    First and most obvious is that it’s unacceptable for someone writing on the removal of DRM to be so ignorant as to not understand the AAC format. I’m not saying everyone needs to understand this stuff, but you can’t justify writing on the subject of you’re so ignorant of your subject matter.

    I’ve got a few other bones to pick with this guy too.

    Dejean writes: “I want to exercise my legal rights to fair use and move it from format to format — from vinyl to cassette to CD to MP3 to whatever comes next,”.

    There’s two things going on here. Is he purposly misusing the term “fair use” or does he just not understand it? I’ll cut him a break and assume that he’s not trying to use the term as it’s normally construed by law or by the industry. Cause otherwise he’s a dope.

    But I do have to call him on the whole “legal rights” thing. Does he think that there’s a law or some kind of constitutional right to be able to transfer music to other formats? There’s no “legal right” that I know of. And if there were, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, now would we?

    Dejean goes on to write: “If you really want to make me a loyal Apple customer, then sell me DRM-free music in an open format at a fair price. Exactly why do you think the 30% premium for DRM-free files is fair, by the way?”

    Feeling a little God-like today are we Mr. Dejean? We’ll now live by the Dejean “fair price” policy where fair price is, of course, decided by Mr. Dejean.

    Fortunately, in this country and most of the world it works the other way around. The seller sets the price and the buyer votes on whether it’s fair or not by voting with his or her dollars. The seller can change the price as they see fit without resort to the impossible to define “fair” standard.

    Trust me Mr. Dejean, you’re in a world of trouble when others get to determine the “fair” price of the goods or services you provide.

    Finally, Mr. Dejean asks the rhetorical question: “Why should I, a solid citizen who wants to do the right thing, have to pay a penalty for my honesty?”

    I don’t think Mr. Dejean is really talking about honesty. He’s really back on that “fair price” thing again. I think you’ll agree that what he’s really saying is: “Why should I have to pay $1.29 for DRM free music? Why can’t I pay .99 for DRM free music? (Or fifty cents. Or a quarter. Or a “fair price”.)”

    The simple answer is that you can’t buy DRM free music at from Apple at less than $1.29 becasue Apple is not offering it for less than than price. Mr. Dejean, your “honesty” has nothing to do with your desire to determine the quality of Apple’s offerings for the price you find desirable.

  8. Stupidity has no limits.

    Even if you encode a video (without DRM, let’s say using handbrake) and the format is m4v (also MPEG-4), move it to a Linux machine, rename it to .mpg and there you go, you can watch it.

    NO DRM HERE!!!

    For some reason reminds me of the tale of the blind man and the elephant….

    MW: “litttle” as “How little some brains can be…”

  9. Comment I posted on the article page:

    “Guess what, another semi-informed tech writer who’s just rambling about his dissatisfaction about so many minor issues (minimally valid at best) as if the digital music industry and technology companies revolve around his little world and owe him a great deal to satisfy all his wishlist. I’m sure you’ve realised your factual errors in this report as pointed out by previous posters.
    If you’re not happy with Apple’s/EMI’s offerings then by all means, act like an adult and find a company that will suit your specific needs. As you stated, choice is good and there are more than enough companies and products to choose from if you only do your research ( I hope).
    For most of us, we’re just excited about forward thinking companies who are willing to take some risks to give consumers what they have been asking for all this time. As for pricing, the consumers/market will eventually decide if this is a sustainable model at this pricepoint or not.”

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