Goofy Microsoft Watch wag thinks Apple’s Steve Jobs’ DRM-free movement helps Microsoft

“Apple CEO Steve Jobs is getting exactly what he asked for nearly a year ago: Industry movement away from DRM music. But the DRM freedom he wanted is looking more like DRM freedom from Apple,” Joe Wilcox writes for Microsoft Watch.

“While the DRM-free moves may be good for consumers, many labels’ have another motivation: DRM freedom from Apple. The iTunes Music store is the biggest seller of DRM music, which should be good for labels wanting to curb piracy. But as iTunes/iPod dominance has increased, labels have found themselves in an increasing Apple choke hold,” Wilcox writes.

“Apple could be in real trouble if consumers favor DRM-free content, and more of it is available everywhere else but iTunes Music Store,” Wilcox writes.

“Microsoft is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the DRM-free movement. MP3s can be played pretty much on any device, including Windows Mobile phones or Zunes,” Wilcox writes.

“In October, I declared DRM freedom. I dumped about 2,000 iTunes tracks, replacing as many as I could with MP3s from Amazon’s music store. For Christmas, I got a new Zune; now I get subscription WMA DRM music as well. I will no longer buy DRM content,” Wilcox writes.

“MP3 stores will increase consumer choice of content and devices, which can only hurt Apple’s iTunes/iPod business model. Apple only really loses if: iTunes is denied access to choice, unprotected MP3 content; Competing music stores offer DRM subscription services that run on most other music players, but not iPod,” Wilcox writes.

“Microsoft benefits another way. Apple’s music store and music player have impeded the Windows entertainment strategy. Through music, Apple had a seemingly end-to-end lock on a crucial entertainment endpoint for PCs and CEs in the home. In 2008, Microsoft will be able to seize control again, in part because of DRM free,” Wilcox writes. “Be careful what you ask for, Mr. Jobs.”

Full article here.

It’s impossible to believe that anyone could be so obtuse, so Wilcox must have some other reason for trying to convince his readers (or maybe just himself) that Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ total evisceration of Microsoft’s proprietary WMA format is good news for Microsoft. Yeah, Joe, people are going to run out now to buy Zunes and Windows Mobile phones that cannot even come anywhere near to matching Apple’s iPods and iPhone. Dream on. iPod came before iTunes Store, Joe. It sold very well without the iTunes Store. Do the math: today just 3% of the music on iPods is from iTunes Store on average. Therefore, iTunes Store is not driving iPod and iPhone sales. As always, iPods and iPhones are driving iPod and iPhone sales.

Microsoft’s Zune answer to Apple’s iPod touch is what, exactly, Joe?

We’ll wait… Not just for Joe to make up some new nonsense, but because we’ll have to wait forever as Microsoft seems intent on poorly copying two-year-old, discontinued iPod models and releasing them as new Zunes two years later. They can’t even match the iPod classic. Apple’s nano kills the flash-based Zune. Where’s the Zune shuffle knockoff? It’s just a joke.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile answer to Apple’s iPhone is what, exactly, Joe?

We’ll wait… Not again just for Joe to make up some more nonsense, but because Microsoft is at least 5 years behind and the best they have to offer today are bad Photoshop images of Apple’s current iPhone. This one’s not even a joke, it’s just sad.

When it come to picking who knows what they’re doing and understands what’s going on and the choice is between Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer… Puleeze. When the choice is between Steve Jobs and Joe Wilcox… Come on.

Jobs called for the end of DRM because he’s quite confident that Apple has a formidable lead and will continue to innovate. Innovation is something that Microsoft has a very difficult time achieving. Their claims to fame are an upside-down and backwards poorly-faked Mac and an Office suite that they are increasing trying to make work like Apple’s iWork. What else do they have? A money hemorrhaging, defective to the tune of billions of dollars game box that only sells because they bought a hot game company. And a failed fake iPod. And a Big Ass Table that hopes to achieve some of the things Apple has been delivering since last June in a multi-million selling pocket-sized device. And a CEO who can’t keep his fat feet out of his mouth or manage his resources effectively. He spends $7 billion a year on R&D and delivers what, exactly? His company’s ass on a platter for Apple to kick regularly? There’s an accomplishment.

Jobs wanted to drive a stake through the heart of WMA, which he’s obviously done. Jobs clearly doesn’t much care if you buy your music via iTunes Store or he wouldn’t have called for the end of music DRM. It would be nice if people did buy their music from iTunes Store, but as long as they are buying the profitable devices from Apple and not using Microsoft’s WMA and DRM, that will be fine, thanks. And, let’s face facts, iTunes Store rules the marketplace. People buy their music downloads from iTunes because it works very well, has a massive library, and the weak DRM it does have for the time being is very unobtrusive. Everything’s going according to Jobs’ plan.

People who think the iTunes Store is driving iPod and iPhone purchases are deluding themselves. People buy iPods and iPhones because the competition is hopelessly outmatched on both fronts. Again, 97% of the music in iPods today on average did not come from iTunes Store and yet, somehow, iPod manages to dominate the market. Logic, Joe. Give it a whirl someday.

Microsoft Watch. What’s that like, Joe? Watching slow motion Hindenburg footage over and over again?


  1. Agree with MDN take except for the MS Office Comparison with Apple iWork. This is one avenue that Apple needs to work on and I’m certain they are. The proper Apple productivity software will come out soon and hopefully they dependency of office will reduce tenfold.

  2. Oh this guy is an idiot.

    If he is so smart, why didn’t he just burn the 2000 iTunes tracks from Apple to a CD and re-import DRM free?

    Any more sage advice Joe? Perhaps financial advice on how to throw away good money?


  3. Except that Subscription music has been PROVEN to be a no go. Why do people insist on pushing it. XM Radio is more popular than Subscription music.

    It would be cool to see an Apple/XM partnership…….

  4. Jobs said himself in the beginning of the iTunes Store. It’s there to encourage purchasing ipods. Apple makes it’s money from the ipods, the store was intended as a break even venture to show people the kind of content they could have on their ipod. When they come out with the movie rental business, it’s not make money on rentals, it’s to encourage the sale of Apple TV’s.

  5. If you look at on-line video content, however, there is still too much windows DRM around. My internet provider offers “PC-TV” using it, totally locking out Mac users. Apart from a few experiments, I haven’t touched it, and am planning to ditch my ISP.

  6. So rather than owning DRM content he’s tied himself into DRM content which he loses when he stops paying. How is that any better? Just because people can buy content from other stores which will now play on iPods why does that mean people will buy Zunes?

  7. Wag doublespeak in action:

    “In October, I declared DRM freedom…now I get subscription WMA DRM music…”

    In other words, he dumped his non-DRMed stuff to be locked into a monthly model that’s nothing but DRM!


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