Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Zune Zune Zune

Jobs seeks online music shake up - BBC

This first popped up on the Inquirer a couple of days ago, but the BBC has picked up on this now. Apparently the recording industry is on the verge of ditching their DRM schemes as it has begun to drag down online music sales. After conducting a brief experiment where DRM-free mp3 files were placed against the standard DRM files it was found that consumers preferred the DRM-less ones. No big surprise there. But even the mere idea that the RIAA would consider dropping anti-piracy schemes like DRM is a surprise. What I find more amusing about this situation is all of the grief Microsoft has received over its own built-in DRM in Vista. For Microsoft, DRM has become something of a black hole as it has caused a lot of driver problems, particularly with companies like nVidia and ATI. From what I can gather, each new graphics card will need its own independent driver. This goes against the philosophy of both ATI and nVidia who have sought only unified drivers as a means of keeping everything simplified. Vista's DRM prevents the use of unified drivers and thus will slow the adoption of new graphics cards, thus pissing off the gamer class. When you piss off the gamers you lose a good chunk of the market.
In a roundabout way, the RIAA will have screwed Microsoft if they do ditch DRM. More importantly, they will have given Microsoft's most visible competitor, Apple, a huge victory in the music market. With Microsoft's own homegrown player Zune just now getting on its feet, such a move on the RIAA's part would throw their whole game plan into a top hat.