Having confidence in a brand can be a wonderful thing. Some people define themselves through the brands they use. They might be “Nintendo” people, “BMW” drivers, “Family Guy” watchers, “Bath and Body Works” shoppers, and “Apple” fanatics.
Having that love for a brand can be like being in actual love. Your partner gives you a renewed sense of joy – a feeling like you’ve been reborn. But like most relationships they probably do a few things that piss off you and your friends. Your partner may have found a new secret to success that’s really bullshit-laden, but still you defend.
This scenario is mirrored by Apple and Apple users. We love our iMacs, Powerbooks, Macbooks, iBooks, Mac Pros, iPods, and the software that they make. But when it comes to the iPod and DRM Apple fans seem to thoughtlessly defend the company. The iPod brought Apple back and their implementation of DRM makes sure it stays that way.
As time goes on iPods are coming down in cost. The entry-level iPod is now under $100. It doesn’t take very much effort to start an iPod “relationship,” but to get out of one must be hell if you’ve ever purchased anything from the iTunes store.
If I break up with a girlfriend I hope that we’re mature enough to be able to give each other’s stuff back. Stopping my relationship with the iPod doesn’t simply mean switching to a new player. What about all my stuff?
Every song you buy raises the cost of switching to another player. If you ever begin to hate Apple and iPods and you have a sizable digital music collection from the iTunes Store, your cost of replicating your experience with another costs as much as the new player PLUS everything you purchased.
You can only burn a playlist 10 times, yet you can transfer music to an unlimited number of iPods. Figure it out.
Arguments are made that there are reasons why it works this way. Besides, you can’t play an Xbox game in a Gamecube. You can’t run Mac programs on a Windows machine. You can’t install certain car parts on certain cars. Why should it be different with music?
The difference is that there is a good technical reason why you can’t play an Xbox game on your Gamecube. There is a good technical reason why your Mac programs won’t run on Windows. There is a good technical reason why you can’t install certain parts on certain cars.
There is no good technical reason why your music should be tied to one company’s device.
When you buy from the iTunes store DRM is the LAST thing applied. Right before you start downloading it DRM is applied. It’s not a special file format – it is an AAC file that’s been given instructions to only be used in ways that were determined in a boardroom discussion.
Well, what about artist’s rights? They need DRM to ensure that they get properly compensated.
That’s a ridiculous argument which has been proven moot. Digital music stores with DRM have existed for a while now, but file-sharing networks still exist because CDs are still sold. The only chance you’ll have of killing file-sharing networks is if ALL music is distributed with DRM; which would be a dark, dark day.
Well, you could burn a CD and re-rip it. What’s wrong with that?
Transcoding. The only way that will be an acceptable workaround is if Apple started offering lossless downloads. This is precisely why I believe Apple will never offer lossless downloads. The market has proved that it’s willing to pay $10 for 50 megs of music. Why should they charge the same amount for 300 megs, despite that they currently charge around $10 for movies that are over a gig? The only reason they would offer lossless downloads is if it meant convincing you that you need a newer, bigger iPod.
You can choose to NOT buy from that store.
Which is what I do most of the time, but there are ignorant users being taken advantage of. It’s easy for those in the know to say “you have a choice,” but when it comes to computers most people don’t really understand that there are more options than what came with their computers. That’s how the whole controversy with Internet Explorer got started. iTunes doesn’t come on Windows computers, but, until a very short while ago, it came with every iPod. Nowadays Apple just tells you where to go to download it. There’s been a battle for your desktop for a long time that’s about to spill over into your living room.
And there are market conditions to consider as well. It may be a bitch to find a certain album on CD. But iTunes could have it. iTunes even has exclusive content and promotions now, which entices music fans to purchase from that store.
I love using Macs, I love using my iPod, I love using iTunes. I hate DRM.