Is iTunes Ready for Whole-Home Audio?
Let’s take a trip back to 2001.
All settled in? Good. So get this: Some computer company has manufactured a funny-looking handheld device that stores a person’s entire music library—but only if the file is compressed to about an eighth of the size of the original CD-quality song. Who’s going to listen to compressed junk like that? Maybe a bunch of kids who don’t know any better, but clearly not the sophisticated people looking for custom integrators and CEDIA members to install whole-home audio systems.
Is it time to go back to 2007 already?
Welcome home! OK, maybe we didn’t call the whole iPod phenomenon quite right way back when. But the custom electronics industry eventually responded to the iPod craze with product and installation techniques that embraced consumers’ unabashed love of Apple’s compressed wonder.
And now that Apple has signed a deal with “Big Four” music publisher EMI to unleash its albums on iTunes without digital rights management (DRM) attached, your relationship with Apple and its products may get even cozier, whether you want it to or not.
Clearing the last hurdle
Apple’s announcement came only weeks after CEO Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to consumers, software publishers and the music industry, citing DRM as the last hurdle to overcome before online music purchases became as ubiquitous as CDs. While many were calling for Apple to expand the abilities of FairPlay, the DRM technology iTunes utilizes, Jobs was calling for the abolishment of DRM altogether. FairPlay was under fire because it limits consumers to playing the music they purchase from iTunes on either their computers or their iPods.
Jobs’ letter garnered a lot of press attention, as well as a stern rebuttal from Macrovision CEO and President Fred Amoroso, who argued DRM doesn’t limit music distribution but expands it because music publishers are more likely to sell music over various media when they know distribution can be controlled via DRM.