Feeds

Retailers join zero-profit DRM ‘gold rush’

MP3 fever

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

"The gold rush is finally beginning," an Insight researcher called Phil Leigh told the San Jose Mercury News this week, commenting on the decision of Comcast and Best Buy to begin commercial MP3 download services.

Comcast will sell a version of Real's Rhapsody subscription service, and High Street chain Best Buy will promote a 99 cents per song download service, modeled on Apple's iTunes Music Store, in almost 600 shops.

Of course, commercial MP3 downloads have been available for years from pioneers such as MP3.com, but these have failed to attract the back catalogs owned by the copyright cartel. For the past five years the technology industry and the entertainment pigopolists have been engaged in a stand-off. When the PC industry attempted to introduce measures that restricted computer users' freedom, they were shot down in a hail of fire. Compromises came and went, but the PC business wouldn't capitulate, and Silicon Valley's traditionally gubbment-phobic tech executives even threw their weight behind proposed fair use legislation. But it was Steve Jobs who gave Hollywood and the RIAA what they wanted: insidious copy protection, gift-wrapped in the sweetest smelling package he knew how to market.

(When people come face to face with the consequences of DRM, they really don't like it very much.)

The problem with this gold rush is, as Jobs himself reminded us last week, there's no money in it for the retailers themselves. The difference between Apple and the arrivistes (and, for that matter, the 800lb gorilla Sony, which will enter the business next year), is that Apple makes money from iPod sales. Sony will outflank Apple thanks to its huge vertical integration advantages: it owns the content and has a historic presence as a consumer manufacturer. But for the others, it's hard to see where the money comes from.

The dot.com bubble was famously described as a 'gold rush', too. In a gift to headline writers across the world, it took place around San Francisco, a city founded on a real gold rush, that's been a boom-bust town ever since. Perhaps there's something in the water here, that attracts native sons such as Jobs to such short-lived opportunities.

But in the gold rush, it was only the pick and shovel vendors who ever made any money. (Oracle spun this into their marketing literature, we remember, in 1999). While an EMI senior VP called Ted Cohen felt confident enough to tell the Merc that this gold rush "shows that we're approaching the normalization of the business", who really makes money here?

The answer is in the question. The RIAA has achieved a home run. It's got a computer company to mass market share denial technology and all those 99 cents go back to the copyright cartel.

No wonder they're looking pleased. 'Normalization' has been achieved. ®

Related Stories

Your 99c belong to the RIAA - Steve Jobs
Penn State's pigopolist pork is not smelling sweet
Apple will make RIAA 'beg for mercy'
Music biz should shift to flat-fee, P2P model - exec

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?