Posts about Apple

Steve Jobs: Kill DRM

In what I like to think of as his first blog post — and one that will rise quickly on Digg, Technorati, etc. — Steve Jobs calls for ending DRM. It’s eloquently argumed:

. . . Let’s look at the data for iPods and the iTunes store – they are the industry’s most popular products and we have accurate data for them. Through the end of 2006, customers purchased a total of 90 million iPods and 2 billion songs from the iTunes store. On average, that’s 22 songs purchased from the iTunes store for each iPod ever sold.

Today’s most popular iPod holds 1000 songs, and research tells us that the average iPod is nearly full. This means that only 22 out of 1000 songs, or under 3% of the music on the average iPod, is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM. The remaining 97% of the music is unprotected and playable on any player that can play the open formats. . . .

Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. 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. . . .

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none.

The consumer part of this equation is that if we are given the chance to buy things legally, we often will. It’s about convenience and access.

Companies will no longer be able to make a living by stopping us from doing what we want to do — which, amazingly, is how many do, in the command-and-control universe. You have to find the ways to make money enabling us to do what we want to do. It’s obvious. It’s reality.

Citizen journalists win one v. Apple

An appeals court handed a big victory to bloggers and citizen journalists in the Apple leak case.

A state appeals court on Friday rejected Apple Computer Inc.’s bid to identify the sources of leaked product information that appeared on Web sites, ruling that online reporters and bloggers are entitled to the same protections as traditional journalists.

“In no relevant respect do they appear to differ from a reporter or editor for a traditional business-oriented periodical who solicits or otherwise comes into possession of confidential internal information about a company,” Justice Conrad Rushing of the 6th District Court of Appeal wrote in a unanimous 69-page ruling.

“We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes ‘legitimate journalism,” he wrote. “The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here.”

The online journalists are thus entitled to the protections provided under California’s shield law as well as the privacy protections for e-mails allowed under federal law, the court ruled.

I may love my Apple computer but I hated the way Apple the company was behaving; I also feared the way the lower court tried to tiptoe around this issue; so I salute the appeals court for standing up for the idea that anyone can commit an act of journalism.

: Key quotes from the ruling in the Times story:

In its ruling, the appeals court said online and offline journalists are equally protected under the First Amendment. “We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish ‘legitimate’ from ‘illegitimate’ news,” the opinion states. “Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment.”

: Here’s the PDF of the decision. The good bit about the First Amendment and us starts on page 35.

: So the court decides that the person doesn’t make journalism — you don’t have to be a journalist to commit an act of journalism:

We can think of no reason to doubt that the operator of a public Web site is a “publisher” for purposes of this language; the primary and core meaning of “to publish” is “[t]o make publicly or generally known; to declare or report openly or publicly; to announce; to tell or noise abroad; also, to propagate, disseminate (a creed or system).”

The court even gets into the issue of whether packaging makes journalism — that is, you don’t have to write a newspaper story to deliver the news:

Nor does Apple supply any colorable ground for declaring petitioners’ activities not to be legitimate newsgathering and dissemination. Apple asserts that petitioners merely reprinted “verbatim copies” of Apple’s internal information while exercising “no editorial oversight at all.” But this characterization, if accepted, furnishes no basis for denying petitioners the protection of the statute. A reporter who uncovers newsworthy documents cannot rationally be denied the protection of the law because the publication for which he works chooses to publish facsimiles of the documents rather than editorial summaries. The shield exists not only to protect editors but equally if not more to protect newsgatherers. The primacy Apple would grant to editorial function cannot be justified by any rationale known to us.

Moreover, an absence of editorial judgment cannot be inferred merely from the fact that some source material is published verbatim. It may once have been unusual to reproduce source materials at length, but that fact appears attributable to the constraints of pre-digital publishing technology, which compelled an editor to decide how to use the limited space afforded by a particular publication. This required decisions not only about what information to include but about how to compress source materials to fit. In short, editors were forced to summarize, paraphrase, and rewrite because there was not room on their pages to do otherwise.

Digital communication and storage, especially when coupled with hypertext linking, make it possible to present readers with an unlimited amount of information in connection with a given subject, story, or report. The only real constraint now is time– the publisher’s and the reader’s. From the reader’s perspective, the ideal presentation probably consists of a top-level summary with the ability to “drill down” to source materials through hypertext links. The decision whether to take this approach, or to present original information at the top level of an article, is itself an occasion for editorial judgment. Courts ought not to cling too fiercely to traditional preconceptions, especially when they may operate to discourage the seemingly salutary practice of providing readers with source materials rather than subjecting them to the editors’ own “spin” on a story.

: LATER: Eugene Volokh’s good analysis.

Happy endings

Apple tales have happy endings.

Apple’s fix

I blew my Mac power adapter in London. Was sitting under a plasma display at OPA, hooked into one of the only power strips there (London has too few plugs!), trying to get some juice and to blog and I heard a pfffft on the screen and suddenly saw that my power was gone. It so happens that I had an Igo power adapter with me (because I thought I might need it on the plane — belt, suspenders) and so I was OK to operate my Mac, but nothing was charging my batteries. Uh-oh. I whined about this to a few folks and they all wondered whether we were headed into Dell Hell, The Sequel.

Nope. I made an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar from London and went this afternoon. There was a bit of a wait on a Saturday (thanks in great measure to an old lady with a six-year-old Mac ahead of me who stretched a 5-minute question into a 40-minute symphony of repetition), but I had no on-hold Muzak and talked to a nice guy, face-to-face. He replaced my power adapter and showed me how to reset the power management unit and didn’t require me to go through a bit of bureacracy and now all is well.

Take that, Dell.

Nya, nya, nya

Apple is now worth more than Dell.

Dell makes a lot more computers. But they are worth a lot less.

Apple makes better computers. And that is worth much more. Even Wall Street figured that out. MacDailyNews reports [via my son]:

On October 6, 1997, in response to the question of what he’d do if he was in charge of Apple Computer, Dell founder and then CEO Michael Dell stood before a crowd of several thousand IT executives and answered flippantly, “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

A little more than a month later, on November 10, 1997, new Apple iCEO Steve Jobs responded, speaking in front of an image of Michael Dell’s bulls-eye covered face, “We’re coming after you, you’re in our sights.”

Today, after a little more than eight years of hard work, Apple Computer, Inc. passed Dell, Inc. in market value. That’s right, at market close Apple Computer ($72,132,428,843) is now worth more than Dell ($71,970,702,760).

I told you to sell.

For fellow Apple cultists

Engadget is giving the blow-by-blow of Steve Jobs keynote. Fun iPod statporn: They’ve sold over 42 million iPods, over 850 million songs, over 8 million videos.

I was hoping the first Intel box would be a laptop. It’s the iMac:

1:12 PM – “So … today we are gonna roll out the first Mac with an Intel processor.”

1:13 PM – “Without any more fanfare, it is the iMac” It looks the same as it does now….

1:14 PM – “We’re going to offer it in the same sizes, 17 and 20-inch. We’re going to offer it in the same award winning design. We’re going to offer it with the same features. We’re going to offer it for the same prices. So what’s different?”

1:14 PM – “We are building in … the new Intel Core Duo. Each of these processors is faster than the G5, and there’s two of ‘em.” …

1:17 PM – “Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.2 is running entirely natively – not just the operating system but all the applications.” He’s been using it for the entire demo all morning, natch….

1:26 PM – “They are shipping today. We are going to be transitioning our entire product line this year.” This is huge.

1:28 PM – “We made an ad just to let people know what we’re doing, and I’d like to premiere it for you now.” Ad voiceover: “The Intel chip. For years it’s been trapped inside ordinary PCs. Doomed to performing dull little tasks.” …

Yeah, laptops, too! Details at Engadget.

: Later: My son’s reactions.

OD

I’ll be on CNN twice Sunday: on Reliable Sources at 10a and On the Story at 1p (a rerun from Saturday night). Subject: West Virginia.

I did my first blogcast with CNN, this time using Apple’s iChat and iSight (with my son’s invaluable assistance). When I used to do these with the late Connected show on MSNBC, we had to use Microsoft Messenger (of course). Apple’s solutions work far better: higher quality images and sound and easier to set up (except for those pesky router ports).

The cult grows

Another convert.