January 2007

Five reasons Apple should license FairPlay

by Michael Alderete on 1/29/2007

I have some very specific, personal reasons why I want to see Apple license their FairPlay Digital Rights Management (DRM) system to other device makers; I’ll publish those later this week. Here I want to lay out a logical argument for why Apple should do this, in their own best interests.

1. Running into the wall of customers’ other (non-Apple) devices slows sales. Requiring people to give up things they like is more likely to lose sales than to convince them to buy new Apple stuff.

I’ve spent more than $400 on the iTunes Store, but I stopped buying FairPlay protected tracks 10 seconds after I realized they wouldn’t play over my new Sonos music system. And I won’t buy movies or TV shows from the iTunes Store because they can’t be played over the network via my TiVo.

I’m not going to buy an AirPort Express or an Apple TV for the privilege of buying content from the iTunes Store. Those devices do not work as well as my Sonos and TiVo, not even close. Instead, I’ll simply buy CDs, and keep my basic cable and Netflix subscriptions.

2. Apple is going to have to do it eventually. Too much success means lawsuits and government action, neither of which is good for business.

With the success Apple has had with the iTunes Store, they have or will reach a level that some will consider a monopoly. That in turn will bring consumer lawsuits and government intervention. It’s already happening in Norway, the Netherlands, and other European states. There’s a U.S. iTunes lawsuit, too. This is a headache Apple doesn’t need.

3. Apple is going to have to do it eventually. Too much success will turn the competitive market into “everyone but Apple.”

This happened to Microsoft. “Everyone but Microsoft” is constantly trying to make effective alliances, and constantly showing up to testify in lawsuits (see the previous item). While it hasn’t lead to Microsoft’s downfall, it has added drag to their momentum.

The efforts of Apple’s competitors have to date been pretty laughable, but when their current partners, the record companies, start saying they might consider selling music without DRM attached, it’s not because they’re happy with the status quo. Apple is so successful at selling music right now that Apple is in the driver’s seat, and that’s not something the recording industry has historically been good at accepting. At some point, “desperate times, desperate measures” will apply. And when your partners start conspiring against you, you’re fucked.

4. Apple is apparently already doing it.

Apple has apparently already licensed FairPlay to NetGear. A step in the right direction. There is a rumor this is the first of many.

5. People will like Apple more.

Customers. Partners. The market as a whole. Yeah, this is kind of touchy-feely, but if Apple opens up FairPlay voluntarily, before they are forced to, it will generate goodwill and positive buzz, and in the Internet age, that can spread pretty far and wide. Remember that the iPod didn’t start out as an iconic device, and a large part of its spread and success came from the same people who will be happy to see FairPlay opened up.

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Brilliance Bits: Weekly podcast on audiobooks

by Michael Alderete on 1/28/2007

Brilliance Audio is a major publishers of audiobooks, and they’ve recently (re)started a weekly podcast called Brilliance Bits. The 12-15 minute episodes vary in type of content; some are interviews with authors, while others are excerpts from recent audiobooks. Four episodes so far.

It remains to be seen how interesting these will be over time, but the first three I listened to were decent. Worth checking out if you’re interested in extra information about authors and so on, and the excerpts are a good way to sample new books you might not otherwise check out.

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Rochelle in the SF Chronicle

by Michael Alderete on 1/27/2007

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Friday wine section has an article, Social Swirl: Surging in popularity, wine clubs let you learn while you drink, with some choice quotations from Rochelle and from our friend David, about the wine tasting group Rochelle started more than four years ago.

This is our third major news article having to do with obsessions with food and drink. Not sure what says about us, except hopefully we’re fun to be around…

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“You had me at scrolling”

by Michael Alderete on 1/9/2007 · 4 comments

Two thoughts about today’s Apple keynote given by Steve Jobs, and the introduction of the Apple iPhone.

The Apple iPhone The first is that it’s an absolute grand slam home run. Think about it this way: take away the phone and the Internet connectivity, and it would still be a breakthrough product, a truly amazing next generation for the iPod. It blows even the current iPods away, to say nothing of Zune and other competitors. People would easily pay $499 for it. (The original Newton MessagePad cost more at introduction, IIRC, $799.)

Similarly, take away the iPod and the Internet connectivity, and the phone is amazing. And then look at just the Internet connectivity — the email, web browsing, Google Maps, the connected widgets like weather and stocks — and in a handheld form factor, it’s revolutionary too. Any of these alone, it’s worth $499. Put them all together…

Second thought, can you guess at what time Steve announced the iPhone?

Apple stock price 2006-01-09

Backtracking using the CNET play-by-play of the keynote, it looks like the initial (and foolish) sell off came when Steve said he wasn’t going to talk about new Mac products. I can’t figure that out at all. When Steve said he wasn’t going to talk about the Mac for the rest of the keynote, I got chills down my spine. Something big is coming. What in god’s name inspired people to sell at that point?

OK, while we’re doing stock graphs, one last thought, courtesy of John Gruber:

Apple stock price vs. PALM and RIMM

And it will be interesting to compare Cingular vs. Verizon over the rest of this year…

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