Jobs iPod Hi-Fi: Home stereo reinvented? Or load of HorseCRAP?

Jobs iPod Hi-Fi: Home stereo reinvented? Or load of HorseCRAP?

Summary: Please don't say I didn't warn you.  Regarding Apple's recently introduced iPod Hi-Fi, the first story I read was written by News.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Please don't say I didn't warn you.  Regarding Apple's recently introduced iPod Hi-Fi, the first story I read was written by News.com's John Borland.  In it, Borland wrote "Jobs and Apple are pitching the iPod Hi-Fi as a replacement for the home stereo system."  My hunt began for the quote.  The one from Jobs that pitched it this way.  It wasn't in the News.com story.  Next, I read BusinessWeek's version. Does Apple's refusal to license its technology...constitute a violation that trustbusters should be paying attention to? In that story, Peter Burrows wrote "Still, Jobs' claim that it offers consumers a great way to replace their stereos is a stretch." Claim? Where's the claim!  I need a quote.   And then, I found it. There it was in the San Jose Mercury News story.  At the very bottom, in the last paragraph of the story, a quote from Steve Jobs.  Wrote the Merc's John Boudreau:  "It's really the home stereo reinvented,'' Jobs said. "Music is not on CDs in your cabinet. It's on your iPod.''

Bingo.

The dastardly plot I've been kicking and screaming about came straight out of the horse's mouth.  So, just to catch everyone up on what I'm talking about and how this works, Steve Jobs believes in his heart (or should I say admits) that all of your music should be kept somewhere on an Apple device. Judging by the Merc's quote, his preference is the iPod.  Yes, we've heard rumors that Apple is going to transmogrify its low end iMac into some sort of media center. But let's judge Apple by Steve Jobs' words instead.  That seems closer to reality.  So, what else is in your iPod?  Well, for starters, it's full of Apple's proprietary CRAP.  C.R.A.P., in case you missed some of my previous blogs on the topic, stands for "Cancellation, Restriction, and Punishment."  I've even made a video about it. CRAP is my personal acronym for DRM (Digital Rights Management technology).  Originally, I wanted CRAP to stand for Content Restriction, Annulment, and Protection.  But Richard Stallman at the Free Software Foundation convinced me to change its meaning to"Cancellation, Restriction, and Punishment" and  ZDNet's readers sided with him.  So what is CRAP?

First of all, if you want to by music by most major artists one song at a time (the way you should be able to by music) and you want it to be able to play on an iPod, then the only place you can buy that music is from Apple's iTunes Music Store (IMS).  Music sold through IMS is stuffed in an wrapper that's made out of Apple's proprietary CRAP.  Currently, there are only three things that can legally cut through Apple's CRAP to playback the music:  the iTunes software, an iPod, or an iTunes phone from Motorola.  In other words, Apple is solely in charge of when and where music that's purchased through IMS can be played back. It has also refused to license its CRAP to other hi-fi companies.  For the last year, I've been arguing that much the same way Apple is using its CRAP to dominate digital music and video playback in the technology market, that it will soon start to nudge the traditional hi-fi manufacturers out of the hi-fi market. 

Since Apple is in charge of where CRAP-wrapped content can play, it gets to decide whether or not CRAP-wrapped content will work on the gear that's sold by the traditional home entertainment companies. But, since the home entertainment market is a growth opportunity for Apple, especially if it can kick all the traditional players out of the game, why would Apple ever let those companies play? It doesn't.  And to the extent that Apple allows some iPod accessory companies (ones that aren't a threat to its master plan) to participate in the iPod ecosystem, Apple charges them an exorbitant tax.  Now that Apple is competing against some of those very same companies, it gets to operate in a tax-free environment while the competitors must pay to play.  The real name of Apple's CRAP is FairPlay.  But how fair is that?  Now that IMS has a virtual lock on the online a la carte digital music sales market, does Apple's refusal to license its technology on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (a practice that could foreclose on competition) constitute a tying violation that trust-busters should be paying attention to?

Back when I first wrote that Apple would use its CRAP to lock home entertainment players out of their own business, a few people wrote to me to say Apple would never do that.  Think different folks [sic].  Apple is going after the home entertainment market and it will use its CRAP to keep the competition at bay.  This time, you didn't hear it from me.  You heard it straight from the horse's mouth.  So, HorseCRAP anyone?

Topic: Apple

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  • Jobs' quote

    "Music is not on CDs in your cabinet. It's on your iPod."

    He could have fooled me, I only have a few tracks I ripped from some CDs I bought in my iPod Shuffle(I use gtkpod, a Linux app for iPod downloading); the rest are tracks I downloaded from eMusic(they don't use CRAP), and other ripped CD tracks just sitting on my hard drive for my favorite music player.

    And Jobs' quote reminds me of the RIAA's claim that ripping CD tracks onto an iPod isn't fair use, yet they said completely the opposite last year in the Grokster case:

    http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004409.php

    Maybe Jobs is just echoing the HorseCRAP already coming from the RIAA ;)
    Tony Agudo
  • Hate to break it to you....

    ---Back when I first wrote that Apple would use its CRAP to lock
    home entertainment players out of their own business, a few
    people wrote to me to say Apple would never do that. ---

    If this is indeed the case, then why does the iPod (and the new
    stereo thingy) work perfectly fine with non-DRM'ed files? If the
    sinister plan was to lock everybody out, wouldn't they prevent
    you from ripping your own cd's?

    If anything, Apple is trying to lock everyone else out of the DRM
    business, not the entertainment business.
    tic swayback
    • So, let me get this right...

      Steve Jobs lets you make CDs. Then, he goes out and tells the world it's a mistake to keep your music on CDs. He's actually right. I'd rather keep my music on one big honkin' digital music server. Only problem is that none of them (eg: Escient's box) support Apple's CRAP. And yes, the iPod's work with non-DRM'd files. But how much longer do you think music will be available in non-DRM'd format? Remember the root kit? Yah. Couldn't be burned to an iPod. Already, the record companies are testing other, non root-kit technologies. iTunes is the number one source of online music sales by a wide margin. You SHOULD be able to by music one song at a time. And you SHOULD be able to use that music anywhere in your house or in your car or while going for a walk. And you SHOULDN'T need Apple's permission, or that of any other vendor, to do that.
      dberlind
      • Duh!

        [i]And you SHOULD be able to use that music anywhere in your house or in your car or while going for a walk. And you SHOULDN'T need Apple's permission, or that of any other vendor, to do that.[/i]

        People should be saying to what you said above, ?Duh!? However the content and computer industry has done such a psyche job on users, they aren?t even sure about their own rights ? or at least what they should be.
        P. Douglas
      • And if wishes were horses...

        ...rides would be free.

        --- Then, he goes out and tells the world it's a mistake to keep
        your music on CDs. He's actually right. I'd rather keep my music
        on one big honkin' digital music server.---

        Well, he is trying to sell a product. Personally, I want a hard
        copy backup of all my music. That's why I buy it on cd (non-
        RIAA only), then rip it to iTunes with no DRM. Then I stream it
        using a couple of Squeezeboxes and the open source slimserver.
        There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

        --- But how much longer do you think music will be available in
        non-DRM'd format?---

        As long as there's demand.

        --- Remember the root kit? Yah. Couldn't be burned to an iPod.
        Already, the record companies are testing other, non root-kit
        technologies.---

        How did that affect the sales of the root-kit containing cds?

        ---You SHOULD be able to by music one song at a time. And
        you SHOULD be able to use that music anywhere in your house
        or in your car or while going for a walk. And you SHOULDN'T
        need Apple's permission, or that of any other vendor, to do
        that---

        Sure, you should always have a sunny day and a smile on your
        face as well. But I don't expect Apple to provide me with either
        of those. They're a company with a profit motive. Big deal. If
        their product doesn't fit your needs, don't buy it. If there's
        sufficient demand to match your needs, someone will provide
        that product.
        tic swayback
      • RE: But how much longer

        Come on Dave, there will always be sources of non DRM'd music.
        You want to get rid of DRM? Then encourage people to buy there
        music from these places. Magnatune.com comes to mind. If
        people stop buying protected content then content will become
        unprotected or die a deserved death. You are "Tilting at
        Windmills". You are going about this battle in a manner
        guaranteeing you will lose.
        Protagonistic
      • Actually...

        You do not. Once the music is download into iTunes, you ripp it to
        a cd or where ever you want, and listen to it how you please.
        cashaww
        • Once the music is download into iTunes

          You can in fact print a CD, which you can then rip back to a hard drive. But the sound quality over your stereo will then suck.
          pstafford@...
    • It's lock-in, not lock-out

      The whole point of CRAP is not to lock media out, it's to lock you in. It's so easy to buy encumbered music, but then when your collection is a few hundred or thousand songs that you've spent a lot of money building up - and you see that glorious other player or bit of kit made by a competitor - no matter how good it is you can't move over without losing your investment in your collection.

      It's a wonderful scheme for the Apples and Microsofts and Sonys of this world, but so bad for consumers I can't imagine it being sustained for too long.
      RJCorfield
      • So don't buy in

        The iPod is set up so you never, ever have to visit the iTunes music
        store, let alone purchase something there. Buy cds. Create your
        own songs. No problem.
        tic swayback
        • would be solution

          I'm all for the solution you mention, but the RIAA is working hard to prevent you from ripping your CDs into digital files "becaue you MIGHT trade those files."
          Besides, you are back to only being able to buy the entire disc of songs when you want one.
          shraven
  • No Limits on iTunes For Me

    iTunes is aplace to store music. I buy CD's and rip them to
    iTunes. I make music in Garageband, and play it from iTunes, I
    download audio from virtually any source on the net, and I store
    it in iTunes. From iTunes I put it through a Sansui stereo
    amplifier. It is perfect for my purposes and I have never
    experienced any limitations. True I do not use an iPod, and true I
    never have bought any music from the iTunes shop.

    Point is that I don't have to use anything from Apple except the
    iTunes software itself to enjoy music via my computer, so why
    the fuss? the situation with iPods is no different to the fact that
    PS2 will only play Playstation games, or X-Box will only play X-
    Box games.

    It seems to me that Apple introduced wonderfully flexible and
    comparatively unrestricted software that enables you to enjoy
    digital music through numerous possible sources and devices
    including iPods. You don't like iPods or the iTunes store? Fine,
    then simply choose another way of enjoying your digital music
    via your iTunes software.
    Tony Johansen
    • Wow.

      Tony, you and I agree completely. There is considerable power in consumer decision making that many people have abdicated. The notion that Apple's DRM is "CRAP", is useless because DRM of this kind (the same as with Audible.com, or similar to only being able to "stream" music from Yahoo) has only become more of an irritant because of its popularity (leading to, "why can't I" questions). Wherein lies the irony. If we could all push electric buzzers that shocked merchants who's products we purchased but didn't want, there'd certainly be a lot less product on the market. Instead, we get to vote with our wallets, which speaks immeasurably.

      Instead of creating elaborate rigs to "dub" our analog tapes, all we need do with iTunes to "copy" our songs infinitely is... create a playlist, burn a CD until full, re-rip your songs. Repeat as necessary to remove any DRM we wish to be free of. Most people won't care to. Those that do have easy options. Where is the problem?
      cleverboy
  • DRM Needs To Be Taken Down

    People should be petitioning the DOJ to file antitrust charges against Apple. Apple after all had no qualms about doing the same thing against MS. Also consumer protection groups should be complaining about DRM, which one of the most egregious violators of consumer rights.
    P. Douglas
    • rafferman's comments

      Dude it isn't Apple that's the problem. It's the RIAA, Sony, and
      all the rest. I read Rafferman's link about RIAA's claims that it is
      unlawful to copy CDs to an iPod.

      This to me is much more sinister than Job's offhand comment.

      The music industry has been trying to stop music copying of all
      kinds since the tape recorder came out -- remember they tried
      and failed to outlaw use of the recordable analog cassette tape
      years ago, claiming that the cassette tape would bankrupt the
      industry.

      DRM can be no less sinister, but at least Apple has come
      through with a solution that works for both consumers and the
      record companies -- at least for now -- until the latter gets
      greedy. Again.

      My fear is that CDs will eventullly be obsolete in favor of a
      monthly subscription where you are in a forever monthly
      payment loop. Which is worse?
      Roger Hall
      • Actually, Apple is...

        part of the problem as well. Read the part in David's blog again where he speaks about FairPlay and how Apple refuses to fairly license the technology.

        I agree with P. Douglas that DRM should be taken down, because it's a result of the RIAA/MPAA's over-monetization greed. To the RIAA/MPAA, fair use is something that "gets in the way of more profits". So they push these technologies that forcibly maximaze profits, while diminishing customers' rights.

        There is some hope, though. Yahoo's music chief recently proposed that music labels should try selling music without DRM:

        http://news.com.com/2061-10799_3-6042756.html?part=rss&tag=6042756&subj=news

        And there's a couple of online music stores that don't use DRM/CRAP:

        http://www.emusic.com
        http://www.magnatune.com
        Tony Agudo
        • Maybe...

          Ok, so Apple is notoriously famous for not licensing their
          technology. That's not exactly true. It has given away more
          research than most companies. From their OS's Core foundation,
          to TrueType fonts, Peer-to-peer networking, etc.
          But yes, it's true it doesn't license FairPlay, which is a pain
          because I can't play those songs on my Roku Soundbridge.
          That's Apple's fault, but I think that maybe, perhaps... The
          license terms between Apple and the music and TV studios don't
          leave much margin for apple to license their CRAP technology.
          I.e., the music studios license the songs to Apple as long as
          Apple doesn't license their CRAP.
          By the way, I can legally burn those songs from ITMS to a CD and
          then rip them back to my computer, but who wants to do that?
          Funny that music "rented' with Microsoft's CRAP don't let you
          burn songs to CD. At least not in a user-friendly way.
          emiliosic
        • What's "fair"?

          You bitch that "...Apple refuses to fairly license the technology..." Why should they? Do you expect all creators to license their patented designs? I you don't like the iPod, or iTunes, or the iMusic store, or Apple - go play with your RIO on Windoze. Steve won't miss you. By the way - my iPod has been a near-replacement for my bulky sterero for almost a year and a half: ever since I bought the Bose iDock. Now I can not only take my music whereever I go, I can take my "home stereo" on vacation by unplugging the power cord. Yes, I'm happy with things the way they are (except that everything should be 50% less expensive than it is).
          macbill
        • RE: Actually, Apple is...

          "Read the part in David's blog again where he speaks about
          FairPlay and how Apple refuses to fairly license the technology."

          Excuse me, but where is it written that anyone has to developed
          a technology and then turn around and license it to everyone
          that wants to compete with them? If you don't like a companies
          attitude the answer is to refuse to buy their product. Would I like
          to see them license the technology? Of course I would. But they
          don't have to. Every company has the right to make stupid
          decisions if they want to.

          You posted a link to magnatune, one of my favorites by the way,
          so if you want to get rid of DRM just keep spreading the
          availability of sites like that.
          Protagonistic
    • Which DRM?

      OK, so you want to sue Apple, what about MS? They have DRM wrapped wma files too! So Apple is on top with itunes, would you think for one minute that MS would not try to do the same if they were at all clever? If MS & Apple didn't, how many Napsters would have continued to pop-up then get killed by the RIAA? RIAA was,is, and continues to be the problem!
      8799pinot