Perhaps a byproduct of Apple's growing popularity, Apple is starting to face angry interest groups in Europe, albeit in subtantially lesser form than the opprobrium normally directed at Microsoft. According to an article on MSNBC, German and French consumer interest groups recently joined forces with a Norwegian effort to force Apple to open its FairPlay DRM to non-Apple music players. Norway, apparently, has given Apple a deadline of September of this year to change their policies or face Norwegian fines. This follows on the heels of a new French law that would, once signed by the French president, give the country's regulators the ability to force Apple to license its DRM to third parties (if not allow consumers to remove it altogether), at least if they hope to continue to sell iPod's in France.
My response to those Europeans choking under the "evil" Apple DRM yoke: build your own iTunes store!
If it is such a tremendous problem that Apple makes songs sold through the iTunes store exclusive to Apple-made iPods, then Europe should take a bit of the money it lavishes on European farmers and build a real competitor, plus a player that will not only consume media from the new EuroTunes store, but would support any and all DRM formats. Why should Apple, a company that spent the time and money popularizing both the leading source of digital music plus the leading player of that music, be forced to do Europe's work for them?
I'm not saying this as an iPod owner who could care less about the "difficulties" faced by owners of non-Apple music players. I say this as someone who recently bought Microsoft's Zune music player. I did so knowing full well that I would NOT be able to buy music on iTunes. I chose to dive into that pool...
...and so does everyone on the face of this Earth who, when faced with a CHOICE between a closed iPod music playback system and "something else," makes a choice that, to the chagrin of certain parties in Europe, disproportionately favors Apple iPods.
Perhaps the concern is that, were the EU to fund the creation of an iTunes competitor plus playback device, nobody would buy it, turning the endeavor into a European-wide version of France's experience with its Bull computer group. Why is that Apple's problem? Why aren't consumers smart enough to know what they are getting themselves into, particularly when options aren't just readily available, but are heavily promoted, and includes among its ranks a player made by the oh-so-defenseless "beast of Redmond" - Microsoft.
Get a grip, people. If you don't like the fact that iPod only lets you play DRM-protected music that is purchased from the iTunes store, then don't buy an iPod.
It's that simple.