The Times Talks About Incompatibe DRM Formats

A little post-Zune (pre iPhone) primer in DRM, and its effect on customer choice, from the New York Times:

THIS week Microsoft introduced Zune, its answer to Apple Computer’s mighty pairing of the iPod portable media player and the iTunes music and video store. Though Zune offers a new choice for customers, it also highlights how restrictive such choices can be.

The many conflicting approaches to rights management can also limit choices. Apple, for instance, does not license its rights-management technology, FairPlay, to other companies. So customers with songs from the iTunes store have to stick with the iPod. The same applies to the Zune player and Zune Marketplace.

Given the number of competing formats, Apple seems to offer the safest bet. IPods are nearly ubiquitous, and the iTunes store — which has sold more than 1.5 billion songs — looks as if it will be around for a while. But there are alternative strategies for those who want to try players other than the iPod or preserve options for the future.

Ah, even when Apple's DRM is just as much an instrument of lock-in as Microsoft's, Apple still wins.


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