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Fortune Editor: iPhone is Real Reason Behind Steve Jobs DRM Letter
Wednesday, February 7th, 2007 at 5:40 PM - by
The real reason for the timing on Steve Jobs's open letter asking record labels to drop DRM is the iPhone, according to an editorial from Fortune magazine's Brent Schlender. Mr. Schlender suggests that Mr. Jobs' real motivation in going public with his DRM concerns is to get the Big Four music labels to renegotiate their music licenses so that Apple can allow iPhone users to download music directly from iTunes to their iPhone.
"From the get-go (once it goes on sale this summer)," wrote Mr. Schlender, "the iPhone as it is currently described will be prevented from directly downloading music or video itself, even though it is a wireless broadband-capable device."
While his wording is less than clear -- it is possible that iPhone users could download any media they can access through an ordinary URL through iPhone's browser -- as of now, iTunes will not be running on iPhone in such a way that allows customers to purchase music on the device.
"So the real question may be this," wrote Mr. Schlender, "could Jobs' eloquent plea on behalf of consumers all be a gambit to force Apple's content suppliers to renegotiate their deals and make it possible to download music and video directly onto the iPhone?"
The general consensus since Mr. Jobs's open letter appeared on Apple's Web site on Tuesday is that it is a direct response to Norway and other European governments demanding that Apple license FairPlay to other players in the digital media market.
While the letter certainly addresses those complaints fairly directly, Apple's public relations campaigns have certainly had a wheels-within-wheels-within-wheels aspect at other times. For instance, the public tit-for-tat squabble Apple had with IDG World Expos was in part an effort to gain control of the company's product release announcements, and Steve Jobs saying publicly that there's no money to be made from selling music online is thought to have been an effort to discourage competitors from entering the market.
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