Wednesday, February 07, 2007

DRM-free content, data-loving subscribers: the beginning of the end of the mobile darkness?

For those of us looking forward to a grown up internet experience on mobiles, two pieces of news struck me as significant. First, the big increase in the likelihood of a new approach to digital music. Steve Jobs thumbs his nose at DRM. No surprise that he thinks that, but breaking rank so publicly with a long-held industry consensus is ballsy. We must remember that nowadays, when Apple sneezes, other industries catch terminal pneumonia. I imagine there's been conversations for some time about when the final shove will be needed to push the broken business model over the cliff - to claim credit for being a successful customer-centric champion, but not to unnecessarily antagonize your key business partners when they're still delivering your cash cows. (Any other industries we can think of that this might be true?). Warner's deal with LastFM is another signal that change in attitude of the music rights holders themselves is underway.

The second is this remarkable stat from Helio - $100 ARPU. Actually, just getting 25% of that from data does actually seem low, given that it's a data-centric story. So, with the possibility of unlimited amount of sharable music sloshing around, together with some very real interest in mobile data, perhaps the message is getting through that you need to let go to have any chance of holding on?

1 comment:

Sean said...

While most would agree that an open model would probably help the market to grow larger, I'm afraid that DRM will be around for awhile.

Jobs'claim that interoperable DRM is not secure and therefore impossible, is simply not true.

By poo-pooing DRM Jobs is opening a pandora's box. He is inadvertantly encouraging collection societies to continue to unfairly collect levies for private copying.

Pointing the finger at the big four media companies draws attention away from the possibility of making DRM interoperable and also "invisible" to consumers.

EMI's foray into MP3 open distribution and other recent experiments shows us that open content distribution is gaining ground but let's not forget that saving DRM is still a viable option but would need cooperation amoung industry players.