More on Jobs and DRM and ostriches and sand

ostrichesI could never have predicted it. Obviously there’s a lot of buzz about what Steve said; no surprise, some people want him to run for President now.

What wasn’t obvious to me was the nature of the buzz. It isn’t about the “what” of the argument, removal of DRM. It isn’t about the “how” of the argument, the process by which we are going to see the removal of DRM.

Surprisingly, much of the debate has been about the “why”. Looking for deep philosophical reasons (or for that matter deep-pocketed business reasons) that would explain why Steve said what he did. [Reminds me of Jim Morrison and Mr Mojo Risin].

Yesterday, we had many people commenting on the Europeanness of the Big Four music-related “content owners” ….. suggesting that Steve had some ulterior motive for attacking Europe. What tosh. Suitable only for the ostriches who think that Steve’s attitude towards DRM was about music and music alone.

Now today, I’ve seen more unusual variants on the story. Mr Jobs did what he did because the “European” regulator was going to insist on it anyway; tosh again. The unadulterated variety. Only suitable for the ostriches who think that “European” regulators have some unforseen power and efficacy.

And there’s a third group who believe that Jobs can’t do it anyway, accusing him of playing to the galleries with zero downside.

I prefer not to look for hidden agendas and conspiracies and vested interests. That’s as bad as expecting people to behave rationally…..

So what do I think? I think that Jobs has worked out that implementing DRM will not scale. That the experience he’s had with Vista (yes, Vista) and with the iPhone has finally irked him beyond tolerance. That he recognises DRM for what it is, a Path Pollutant. And that he sees an opportunity to stop the pollution.

Strangely enough, Vista may prove to be a real boon in this respect. Finally showing people what a load of $%£ DRM is, how difficult it is to implement, how terrible the impact on the common man, and how futile the effort anyway.

Personally, I like what Cory said about it. Go take a look. Particularly the Disney bit.

The walls are coming down. And the gardens are getting connected again. Not channelled.

8 thoughts on “More on Jobs and DRM and ostriches and sand”

  1. Steve Jobs is a user interface master, and DRM has a user interface problem. It’s impossible to make a DRM system that maps to a user’s expectations of what is and isn’t legitimate personal use. So some of the DRM restrictions are going to appear as bugs, brokenness, or support issues to the user. (Only EFF lawyers read EULAs and nobody reads the manual.)

    If you’re trying to make “the computer for the rest of us” then part of the magic, the brand experience, whatever you want to call it, is that the system works the same way the user’s mental model of the system works. People don’t have DRM-system-like mental models of what bits to use how.

    Some DRM vendors want to retrain the user, but that’s what pre-Mac-HIG software people tried and failed at.

  2. WHY???
    Jobs has one thing in mind when masterfully creating buzz and hype.. Apple, Steve Jobs is Apple, more buzz by Jobs more buzz for Apple and if the content DRM folks go away because Jobs’ manifesto morte power and more money for Apple..
    yup it’s that simple
    b

  3. you ask why???
    Jobs has one thing in mind when masterfully creating buzz and hype.. Apple, Steve Jobs is Apple, more buzz by Jobs more buzz for Apple and if the content DRM folks go away because Jobs’ manifesto morte power and more money for Apple..
    yup it’s that simple
    b

  4. I think Don’s point is crucial. Steve Jobs jealously guards the boot sequence for the Mac. Why? because he cares about usability. Full stop.

    That mindset would have found DRM a real problem. So first chance he gets, he’s out of it. I am convinced that it was the iTunes and Vista problems that finally did it.

  5. Surely Jobs’ own allusions to Europe in his letter reveal that this was in response to Norway’s judgment that FairPlay is illegal and that Germany and France — major markets for Apple — may follow suit.

    And Cory’s questions — why doesn’t iTunes currently sell DRM-free music from labels that don’t demand DRM and DRM-free Disney movies — have no satisfactory answer other than that to date, DRM has suited the iPod/iTunes business model very well.

    Faced with the need to license or find a standardised alternative to fairplay (both expensive to implement and user-unfriendly options), the alternative of losing DRM entirely is clearly the best alternative for Apple, and coincidentally the consumer.

    Don’t get me wrong, the guy’s a hero of mine and I’d love to see iTunes go DRM-free, but I’ve rarely seen him admit he’s wrong about anything, and I’m not so sure he just started…

  6. Jobs never admits he is wrong about anything – he just changes his direction and implicitly claims it is what he believed all along. Take the “iPod with Video” – according to His Steveness this was never going to happen. He has always hated television I believe .. now we are going to have Apple TV. In answer to Bobby – who knows what Jobs reall thinks and cares about – a lot of us love Apple because we believe he cares more about quality than he does about money. Who know, though, we may be wrong but evidence kind of points that he does not care about money. Only some idiot would have continued to pile money into NeXT and then continue to do the same with PIXAR – anyone who cared about money would have cut-and-run on both much earlier.

  7. I think the reality is that he cares equally about quality and money, and has proven that quality sells.

    His keynotes are a giveaway — he speaks with equal passion about the design of his products and his market share / revenue / download figures.

    And NeXT and Pixar were actually great long term investments — the payoffs being Mac sales thanks to OSX and Disney’s acquisition.

    They also demonstrate his other conviction — that he knows what people want (or will want) better than they do themselves. When Steve appears to be wrong, it’s just because the rest of the world hasn’t yet figured out what right looks like.

  8. I am planning to write an article about Jobs comments later at my blog.

    But here is a short summary on the matter.

    1. It was designed to move the DRM meme discussion back at the European recording companies and away from iPod+iTunes.

    2. Lets be honest, digital content, requires Digital rights Management. Whether its music, videos, movies, books, photos. — In an increasingly digital world – we need such a framework, to suggest that we should get rid of it is pure folly — which is all the more remarkable that Jobs said it — but you need to read between the lines.

    3. Eventually, we will live in a world of pure Internet/Digital distribution — one day Record companies wont be selling CD’s. We all know that day will come one day, and when that day comes, and Steve knows it will — we will have no choice but as consumers to pay with DRM.

    4. But that day hasn’t arrived today — nobody wants to cannibilize sales or shrink the PIE until the right time. So we obviously live in this uneasy future and past world. The past, being CD’s, the future, being digital. It suits Steve to poo poo DRM because, it takes the heat of iPod+iTunes, he becomes the good guy, fighting the consumer’s cause, today.

    5. The record companies, not Apple, will become the bad guys, tomorrow. Because they know they cannot do without DRM. Steve has planted the seeds for that blame by his email. either way he wins with or without DRM.

    — One final point, In the sudden gush of discussions over the last few months, have we all suddenly lost our senses and think that we can live in a world if digital intellectual property with out any form of protection for the artist?

Let me know what you think