Hawk’s One Billion Suckers

Thomas Hawk presents a less than rosy view of Apple’s one billion iTunes served. Though he is somewhat off the mark… we’re really talking about 50 million suckers. ;) Until recently I was counted amongst those suckers. See, I think the iTunes store is an efficient and reasonably priced service providing a large library of content to choose from. I also give Apple a ton of credit for defining a new and successful media distribution paradigm with this landmark accomplishment.

However, I’m not a supporter of Apple’s FairPlay DRM because they have refused to license it to other manufacturers. Prior to version 6 of iTunes, their DRM could be stripped enough with JHymn (of questionable DMCA legality) to play music on my Roku SoundBridge, TiVo, and Samsung Yepp. I’m not an advocate of piracy, but I do want the freedom to listen to my music on something other than Apple hardware or software. True you can export unencrypted songs to CD… but isn’t the whole point to free ourselves from cumbersome physical media? Not to mention it’s a tedious process with a large music collection… buy, burn, rip, label, repeat.

So as of iTunes v6 I ceased to be an Apple music customer. The DRM hasn’t been broken (why does it need to come to that?) and they still refuse to license it to other hardware manufacturers. Microsoft often gets a bad rap, but at least their DRM scheme for both audio and video is being made available to a variety of software, hardware, and media companies. I recognize and support a content owner’s right to protect their assets, but until a universal standard is agreed upon the consumer will lose — our options will be limited and confusion will abound. Ultimately this has and continues to stifle the adoption of digital media while widespread music and video piracy continues… Though I’m not sure that Apple minds as they continue to sell massive quantities of iPods.

4 thoughts on “Hawk’s One Billion Suckers”

  1. The standard was agreed on by consumers, MP3. Now the fat cats are trying to steal fair use before we actualy discover we can loose it.

  2. That happened to me, too; I kicked myself for not checking the hymn website before installing ITunes 6.

    I found a workaround, though, and I’m still an (occasional) iTunes customer. The problem I have with MS and PlaysForSure is that, at the core, it’s considerably *more* evil and untrusting than FairPlay. It’s just that, unless you have an iPod/Linux box/Mac, you notice much less.

    I don’t know why I don’t just listen to people like Cory Doctorow, who (correctly) argue that we should tell every DRM-ed producer to take a hike.

  3. The problem with MP3 is it is a crappy codec. I use AAC because I get better sound *and* smaller files. (I find 128Kbps AAC sounds much better than 192Kbps MP3.)

    I upgraded to iTunes6 knowingly. I used to strip the DRM with JHymn just because I could and all. But really, I only ever use the music in iTunes or on my iPod, so it has just not been an issue. So I still buy music from iTunes. When (I believe it is when, not if) JHymn is updated I’ll probably strip the DRM again just for future proofing.

  4. The AAC files the Music Store puts out are junk and no replacement for actually buying the CD and ripping the files yourself using a higher bitrate. Sure, it’s way easy to download and go, but the tradeoff for me is too big, plus my iBook drive crashed and I lost all my purchased files. Apple did not offer to replace them for me, even though I had bought them in the past. A CD lets you rerip.

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