Convergence and the iPod

A fascinating and provocative post by DrunkenBlog which says that iPod’s days are numbered and Apple’s real game is to be the gatekeeper for DRM content on the Web:

the iPod’s era of growth being stunted short isn’t due to any fault of Apple; they aren’t the only ones being caught in this squeeze. And there’s remarkably little they can really do to save the iPod long term. Instead of letting the phone suck in the iPod, they could ‘let the iPod suck in the phone’ and add the functionality to it. But when you stop and think about that idea, besides noticing the fact that it’s almost buddhist in nature you’re left with the problem of everything else the phone is converging with.

But one can take heart that they’re recognizing the danger very, very early. It’s telling that they’re not only licensing the playback of FairPlay-DRM’d tech to Moto, but that they’re also building the playback software that will ride on top of it, and that’s the long-term endgame they’re moving towards, and the iPod, AirTunes and other things to come will be pawns in that game; they’ll all reinforce Apples DRM even if it costs some sales.

If you’re having trouble picturing that endgame, think of Microsofts ill-fated HailStorm initiative. One part of this involved them holding all of your personal information in escrow, including payment information, and they’d be your gateway towards purchasing anything on the internet, all the while siphoning off pennies here and pennies there.

They’ve also recently been working hard to incorporate DRM into the BIOS of your motherboard and pervasively through the operating system… much of it in an effort to put a hurt on piracy and the like, but much of it was very much an effort to court the media companies. You see Microsoft makes money when people decide they need (and buy) new computers, and people don’t buy new computers to be able to browse the web faster (unless they’re using OSX).

Apple is playing towards that exact same endgame, but with a twist: they’re creating a new light-DRM platform that is riding on top of everyone else’s platform. iMacs, Windows, mobile phones, everything. Google is also creating a platform riding on the backs of other platforms… except its based around becoming the access point for all things internet. Apple wants that, but for DRM content.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.