Apple Blocking iTunes Competition for iPhone?

Apple Blocking iTunes Competition for iPhone?

Rivals of Apple's iTunes store and technology rights groups are speaking out. They believe Apple may be unfairly blocking rival software makers from selling music on the iPhone and new iPod Touch. Currently, four out of every five songs purchased on the Internet come from the iTunes store, according to a release from Reuters. This statistic becomes ever more important as digital downloads become increasingly popular. In fact, last month, for the first time digital sales surpassed CD sales.

This popularity is largely in due to Apple's ability to produce and market innovative products. Today the iPod is the standard from which other digital music players are compared. Yet, the iPod is only one aspect of Apple's trifecta in the world of digital music. There is also iTunes software to manage the music, as well as the iTunes store for music sales. When using an iPod, these three interact seemlessly, making the process very straightforward, yet importing music from other services can be anything but simple. Because of the increasing segregation between music purchased elsewhere and music purchased at the iTunes store, rivals and technology rights groups are worried Apple is being overly aggressive in their methods of music organization.
Others believe iTunes inhibits user choice in its methods of music management. "Users should have the choice of the iTunes store or somebody else's store," says Rob Lord, chief executive of Songbird, a rival music player that is designed for use on any device, including the iPod. He also added consumers should be able to switch to Nokia, Blackberry In Motion Ltd or other MP3 players without having to dump their entire music library.

One 'problem' is that their cries are  falling on deaf ears. As of right now, with Apple's huge market share, as well as their continuing popularity, it has no reason to change the DRM scheme. On top of this, no one can force Apple to change their tactics. With Microsoft's Zune, software, and marketplace trio, Apple is not a musical monopoly liable for review.

To illustrate the technology rights group's fears, one must understand what it means to purchase a song through the iTunes store. Each track purchased is a normal MP4 file that has an encrypted audio stream (
AAC). The purchase information, including the key used to encode the song are stored on Apple's servers. In order to play the file, iTunes accesses Apple's servers, downloads the key information, and activates the computer. At any given time, 5 computers can be activated to play the users songs through QuickTime. The issue lies in the fact that the songs can only play on activated computers, and only through programs that work with QuickTime. This seemingly ties the purchaser to Apple and QuickTime. Yet Apple has avoided lawsuits by giving users a work-around. To remove the DRM from the song, the song can be burned to a CD and re-ripped to the hard drive without any DRM. A lengthy and frustrating process for anyone who wants out from Apple.

Digital Rights Management for songs is not the only issue being brought up. The iPhone and iPod Touch both use a new version of an Apple file format known as iTunesDB. In order for software to sync with an iPod, iTunesDB must be used. The older version, which was used in previous generations of iPods, was hacked quickly, allowing access by third party programs. The new version hasn't been cracked (yet), so as of now, users with an iPhone or iPod Touch must use iTunes to manage their music. For the majority of users, who use iTunes, this goes unnoticed, but for those who use
Winamp or other popular music management software it brings up a host of issues.

How strongly does Apple feel about keeping iTunesDB uncracked? Enough that when possible cracking solutions were posted on the site
bluwiki, Apple was quick to contact the operator, Sam Odio. "When a lawyer calls you up and implicitly threatens litigation that would bankrupt your little project you obviously have no choice but to comply," he said.

Groups such as Electronic Frontier Foundation believe Apple has gone too far. "This is a pure attack on interoperability," said Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer for the Foundation. "In October of last year, they added software which has no purpose other than to prevent applications other than iTunes from working," he added.

Only time will tell if the Apple Juggernaut will be effected in the future as more and more users try software for their musical needs. With the overwhelming hostility towards digital gaming DRM such as that used in Spore, combined with more and more people's desire for unencumbered music, Apple is asking for trouble if they add too much more rigidity to what their users can and cannot do.
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Looks like Apple is starting to monopolize digital music sales, just like Intel does with processors. No wonder they use Intel CPU's in Mac's!

Check out this link about Intels unfair practices: http://breakfree.amd.com/en-us/antitrust.aspx

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LOL, there are a LOT of other "options" out there besides Itunes, believe me.

jess

www.privacy.es.tc

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JImMcDosh:

LOL, there are a LOT of other "options" out there besides Itunes, believe me.

jess

www.privacy.es.tc

There are. I use Amorok in Linux and I don't know about Iphone, but it works for my Ipod.

 

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Can I offer a few significant corrections?

The only problem that prevents installing songs purchased from other stores is the DRM. Users *can* have the choice of the iTunes store or somebody else's store: the problem is that "somebody else's store" prevents the user from doing that because that store places the restrictions, not iTunes.

Also, not every song available from the iTunes Store has DRM. 2 million of the 6 million songs are available as standard MP3s which can be played anywhere. Search Google for "iTunes Plus". This was big news a year and a half ago. Additionally, Steve Jobs has repeatedly called on the industry to stop using DRM.

Check your facts before writing such a defamatory article.

Sources:

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

http://blog.wired.com/music/2008/11/drm-free-major.html

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Mike Kenyon:

Can I offer a few significant corrections?

The only problem that prevents installing songs purchased from other stores is the DRM. Users *can* have the choice of the iTunes store or somebody else's store: the problem is that "somebody else's store" prevents the user from doing that because that store places the restrictions, not iTunes.

Also, not every song available from the iTunes Store has DRM. 2 million of the 6 million songs are available as standard MP3s which can be played anywhere. Search Google for "iTunes Plus". This was big news a year and a half ago. Additionally, Steve Jobs has repeatedly called on the industry to stop using DRM.

Check your facts before writing such a defamatory article.

Sources:

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

http://blog.wired.com/music/2008/11/drm-free-major.html

Welcome to HH Forums.

Though Steve Jobs has called for the death of DRM Itunes only has a small chunk of the songs available as unDRMed MP3s. Stores like Amazon Unboxed offer a much larger selection. It sounds to me that the RIAA called his bluff. Apple does not want to get rid of DRM.

 

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Again, I'm going to have to refute this. The music industry hates seeing Apple collect a share of the revenue while incurring minimal costs. They also hate how Apple, having significant market share, can dictate terms. If you recall from last February, Apple was going to have to pay increased royalties (15 cents per 99 cent song rather than 9 cents). Rather than cowering, Apple said it would shutter the iTMS were that the case.

The music industry has realized that in order to get their music on the ubiquitous iPod (and now iPhone), they are going to have to either sell music through the iTMS, or sell music unencumbered by DRM. Recognizing opportunities lost to Apple's dominance, the music industry is moving toward throwing DRM overboard, hoping to not only gain more revenue, but gain back some control.

So, I'll once again state that "Apple Blocking iTunes Competition for iPhone" is an absurd title for a fallacious article. The only reason a song purchased online won't play on an iPod is because the store you purchased it from didn't sell you an MP3, it sold you an encrypted song. Blame that store, not iTunes.

Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself:

http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/news/2007/09/drm_part_one

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/bitsandbytes/archive/2008/10/02/how-apple-wrecked-the-music-industry-s-business-model-over-a-nickel.aspx

(Full disclosure: I don't own an iPod, or a Mac, or anything made by Apple. I'm just pissed off by this ridiculous article.)

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I think you better re-read the title of this article, though I'm glad it has spurred such lively discussion. There is a question posed here for all to ponder and no judgment passed per se. Devin poses the question with respect to Apple's resistance to let folks take their music to another machine that they may own or use it with other software. I personally ("full disclosure") own an iPod and feel it's a joke that I can't take the music on it to any other machine or software player I own. I own the machines, I own the music, why can't I play it on any machine/platform I want?

The article is not ridiculous. It's merely exposing the situation as it stands today. However, being blinded to both sides of the equation, that is ridiculous, with such a passionate post like this. If you owned an iPod and experienced some of the limitations first hand, you might realize this.

That said, I buy DRM free music and use that on my iPod (which is a nice player of course) and wherever else I want and don't often buy from the iTunes store, just because of the lack of flexibility.

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Mike, I believe you've missed the point of this article. I understand that Apple sells DRM-free music, however, this article is not about Apple DRM. I never once in the article said you couldn't bring in other music purchased elsewhere, the issue that I was trying to bring to light was the new iTunesDB encryption.

The first version of iTunesDB was easily cracked, and once that happened, any third party developer could design software to sync with the iPod. What Apple has now done, is to revamp and buff up the encryption and release a new version for the iPhone and 2nd gen iPod touch. This new version has yet to be cracked, and as I said in the article, when possible cracks were discussed, Apple unleashed their lawyers.

This article isn't about a song not playing on an iPhone, its talking about the method by which you can get the song onto your iPhone. Yes, you can buy songs at places other than the iTunes store, but as of right now, there is no other legal way of getting the song to your iPhone without using iTunes. That is where the competition is being blocked, not due to the DRM, but due to iTunesDB, and the inability for third party software makers to have access to the code to allow their programs to sync like the iTunes application. I would also suggest reading the original Reuters article, as there is more information available there as well. Thanks.

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