Steve Jobs really said that???

Steve Jobs has written a statement 'Thoughts on Music' on the Apple website, in which he shares some quite staggering thoughts on the future of online music and Digital Rights Management in particular.

The biggest bombshell is that he calls for the record labels to drop DRM in favour of open licensable formats. Jobs says: "In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat."

My thoughts? Of course, it's easier for Apple to take this position than others since its core business is selling iPods, not music. However, that doesn't make Jobs wrong. As he points out, record labels are selling about 90% of their content in unrestricted (CD) format, so why spend so much time, effort and money trying to protect the remaining 10% - particularly since it's impossible to truly protect digital content in the long run.

The fact is that for customers it's just a pain in the backside to have to take into account file formats and DRM restrictions when buying music. If I buy a track from Virgin, or HMV, or iTunes or an artist website, why shouldn't I be able to listen to it on my iPod, or Sandisk MP3 player? Am I really supposed to choose between (a) having two different players to play music purchased from different sources or (b) making a choice of store and then sticking with it because music I buy elsewhere won't play on my particular player?

The truth is, all this does is make me look for ways to get hold of music without DRM, and as we all know there are a number of ways to do this (which perhaps I won't go into here). So instead of being nurtured as a lifetime music consumer I'm being pushed towards finding ways to download music without paying for it.

Of course, let's not overlook the fact that it's tough competing with a business model where content is given away, but the industry has to think of this as a competitive business model and devise value-added strategies to compete effectively. It has to move beyond the "downloading is illegal" frame of mind.

So let's see what the reaction is to Jobs' statement. Should be fun over the next few weeks...



I'm keen on a new music distribution system that I've heard about on the internet. It's probably all rumour but apparently a lot of the mobile phone manufacturers are investing in it to make their newest models compatible. It gives absolutley free content anywhere any time. I think they are calling it 'radio' or something. Hope it catches on. Some people don't even need to invest in a listening unit as the metal fillings in their teeth, or in my case the metal plate in my head, does the job.

Stewart McDowall :: February 7, 2007 4:10 PM

Do you mean the steel plate does the Steve Job? (do you see what I've done there? Job? Jobs? Oh forget it.)

Darren :: February 7, 2007 4:56 PM

Darren, that is soooo typical of you. You've got to pick up on every little thing haven't you? It's like when I put my new ipod in the washing machine. Okay, it was dumb but did it really matter whether I'd used biological or non-bio powder? It wasn't important, okay? I was crying, those tears were real, I could have used some sympathy, but no, 'what conditioner did you use?' that was your sympathy. Well thanks a lot.

Karen :: February 7, 2007 5:03 PM

Karen. Let it go. I'm sorry I was insensitive. This isn't the place to be having this discussion. But as you brought it up, what's your recommendation for the nano, fast spin?

Darren :: February 7, 2007 5:18 PM

Genuinely held feelings or PR stunt? You've got to admit that Apple are facing an interesting conundrum in reconciling their easy-going user-friendly sentiments with something which is a dog to use but is technically keeping their market dominance alive and well.

That said, it's clear to see that SJ's practically dictated the shape of the digital music market from the word go, so perhaps he's finally decided to throw it all open and let everyone else have a go...

Truth be told, everyone in the industry is moving towards MP3 with the exception of Universal, so he's not exactly blazing a trail. Hopefully the main side-effect of this will be that Apple users will finally understand that iTunes isn't the best and only place to buy music!

Dan :: February 7, 2007 5:37 PM

Post a comment


« Music Subscription services will make sense - one day
So that was EMI's MP3 moment... »