So, the new video iPod has been released. This new version comes in 30GB and 60GB and looks pretty slick. However, the main news was not the release of the new iPod, but the fact that Apple has tied in with ABC to release their TVware. Under the deal, Apple will release the sitcoms and series featured on ABC on iTunes a day after they are aired.
What does this mean?
This means that slowly and surely Apple is becoming a major player in the entertainment industry. But would that be a bad thing, you’d ask? Probably. If the authorities and the other major players are not careful, Apple could be what Microsoft is to the software industry……Profiteers on other people’s successes.
Everyone knows the deal Apple made with RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). The songs that RIAA controls (which is about 95% of the released material in North America) were made available to common man at the cheap price of 99 cents a song or 9.99 dollars for the album. This utterly revolutionised the on line music industry and for the first time RIAA actively supported people downloading music as long as it was from Apple. But they had put in a spanner in the works.
The songs downloaded from iTunes come with DRM – Digital Rights Management technology. This technology forces a user to use ONLY APPLE PRODUCTS for his/her music. Although there are many ways to get around this “lock” for the vast number of user, iTunes locks them into Apple players products. This is exactly what happened with Microsoft. IBM gave Bill Gates exclusive rights to use DOS and now IBM PC business is kaput and Bill Gates is a multi billionaire and the king of software industry. To be fair it was RIAA that forced Apple to introduce DRM into iTunes but it is Apple that is raking in the money.
And now Apple has a deal with ABC on TVware. I am convinced that the TVware available on iTunes will also have DRM (or something similar) so we will not be able to download these TVware and watch it on out computers unless we use Apple technology. You see where this is going?
Apple has always been a technology innovator. Even though it is a small player as far as PCs are concerned, it has always done well because of superior products. They are like the Ferrari of software and hardware industry – they may not sell as many units as Ford or GM, but their superior products keep them in the business of making profits. But lately it seems that Apple is looking into mass marketing. Mass marketing invariably involves cutting corners and cutting corners is always a slippery slope. The next thing you know, like Microsoft, Apple will be buying innovative (read, small) companies with better products and launching them as their own. This is going to do irreparable damage to the online music industry. I hope that RIAA and ABC realise soon what they are doing.