Is Jobs the new Gates?

Enemies are useful. They get your juices going. They give you something to push back against. They help you gain allies. Ask any political blogger.

Steve Jobs
With Bill Gates having now morphed into a kinder, gentler Time Person of the Year (think Fred Rogers with $50 billion to spend) the open source movement needs a new bogeyman.

Fact is, as Gates himself will tell you, enemies are useful. They get your juices going. They give you something to push back against. They help you gain allies. Ask any political blogger.

So, nominations are open.

Steve Jobs.

Nominations are closed.

Jobs makes a great bogeyman for our time, as George Lord tells News.Com today. Just as Firefox makes a great foil for Gates' Internet Explorer, so Lord's Songbird project could be a foil for iTunes.

But there remains one great problem, and it's not, as the News.Com article notes, whether we "need" another music player.

The effort is illegal.

Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and as verified in DeCSS case case you can't crack someone's DRM, even for legitimate purposes. Not in the U.S. anyway. And rushing off to develop in Russia in the name of "freedom" crosses the line from cheeky to scary.

The folks who call themselves Pioneers of the Inevitable may be as chirpy as they want, but while the Firefox folks have a technology struggle and a marketing struggle on their hands, I'm afraid the war against Jobs and iTunes is going to be a political struggle...one where the other side has all the cards.

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