In two recent articles (Note to recording artists: Just say "no" to Apple and GM, Ford, Mazda to drive acceptance of Apple's C.R.A.P.), David Berlind once again rails against Apple and their reticence to license their FairPlay DRM technology.
David's 'shining' example in the first case is France -- who wants to force Apple to share it's DRM technology. Sounds good, right? This is the same country who, along with the rest of the EU, forced Microsoft to release an EU 'version' of Windows which European consumers don't even want.
In the second case, David complains that US Automakers are making their cars iPod-friendly by putting in iPod compatible cables. Nothing about their offerings preclude the use of other vendor's players. After all, it can't be all that hard for other vendors to reverse engineer those iPod cables so their players would work too! But they don't seem all that willing to do so. Why is that?
Companies like Apple and Microsoft become virtual monopolies because they provide products that people want more than they want products from other vendors. Should vendors be scrutinized so they do not use their leverage to keep others out of the marketplace? Absolutely -- but as far as I can tell, there are LOTS of music players on the market to compete against iPods. Most are less expensive than Apple's offering and most use Microsoft's DRM technology. Guess what? Consumers don't want Microsoft's DRM -- or those lame players. They want an iPod!
Force apple to compete on an equal footing with Microsoft and the unintended consequence is Microsoft being the music-player monopolist instead of Apple. Is this such a good outcome?
David points to Apple's control over your choice of players -- now and in the future -- and he even criticizes Apple's influence over the recording industry to keep music prices LOW even though the industry wants to RAISE YOUR PRICES. (What's wrong with this picture?)
His title even suggests that recording artists should boycott Apple but the artists have very little influence over any of this. Sure, should Apple turn malevolent (a trait many would assign to the RIAA), this could get ugly for consumers but nothing in Apple's past suggests that this is likely to come about. Microsoft, on the other hand, is notorious for pushing the envelope once it gains a competitive advantage.
On the other side of this battle is the RIAA -- who used their formidable lobbying efforts to get DRM technology written into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- and who now wants to use their considerable clout to raise your music prices!
I sympathize with David's objections to DRM and in many respects I share them but who is really to blame for Apple's DRM? Certainly not Apple.
DRM was brought to you through the auspices of the RIAA and your Congressman! The fact that Apple is currently better at marketing its DRM than Microsoft is just a plus. This won't always be the case -- and Microsoft's willingness to share it's PlaysForSure technology will be as fleeting as their willingness to share their Windows XP APIs.