August 2004 Archives

Plays for sure?

I'm not so sure.

The way I see it, there are already over 150 Windows Media-compatible devices out there that don't support the old Windows Media DRM, meaning they won't work with any existing online music store. There are slightly fewer Windows Media compatible devices that support the current DRM system (so they are compatible with today's WMA-based music stores), and now we're going to see a third class of device that supports this new "Janus" DRM.

No wonder Microsoft needs needs a whole warning label campaign to sort out this mess. Trust Microsoft to take the virtue of wide compatibility and turn it into a bog of complications.

The "Plays for sure" campaign will include a logo on devices that support Microsoft's Windows Media and will be advertised by download services that distribute files in that format, sources said. Although not specifically using the Windows Media brand name, the campaign is aimed at assuring consumers that all services and devices carrying the logo will be compatible with each other.
I'll stick with my iPod. There's no question of compatibility there.

Update: Just noticed that Michael Gartenberg over at Jupiter was thinking the same thing (except it seems that he thought it a few hours earlier than I did—props to Mike).

I'm starting to see a few of the technopundit talking heads parrot the line that Apple's unwillingness to license FairPlay DRM to other online music stores is MacHistory MacRepeating its MacSelf
Just as it happened with PCs, other digital music products will narrow Apple's technology lead. Maybe those products will never be as good as Apple's, but they'll become good enough — and they'll be based on broader standards that don't lock in users, and they'll probably be cheaper. If history is any guide, when that happens Apple's share of digital music will leach away.
This, of course, is complete crap.