Could Removal of DRM Restrictions Actually Decrease Music Piracy?

  • New research from Rice and Duke universities challenges conventional wisdom by suggesting that the removal of digital rights management restrictions can actually decrease music piracy.
  • “Marketing professors Dinah Vernik of Rice and Devavrat Purohit and Preyas Desai of Duke used analytical modeling to examine how piracy is influenced by the presence or absence of DRM restrictions,” explains the press release. “They found that while these restrictions make piracy more costly and difficult, the restrictions also have a negative impact on legal users who have no intention of doing anything illegal.”
  • “In many cases, DRM restrictions prevent legal users from doing something as normal as making backup copies of their music,” said Vernik, assistant professor of marketing at Rice. “Because of these inconveniences, some consumers choose to pirate.”
  • According to the research paper, copyright owners don’t necessarily benefit from less piracy. “Decreased piracy doesn’t guarantee increased profits,” Purohit said. “In fact, our analysis demonstrates that under some conditions, one can observe lower levels of piracy and lower profits.”
  • The press release includes a compelling statement from the late Steve Jobs: “Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.”

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

You may have noticed that Apple.com’s homepage simply features a thoughtful image of pioneer and innovator Steve Jobs today. As the industry (and world) mourns the loss of a true original, we thought we’d provide you with some early comments to Steve’s untimely passing. The links below will take you to more detailed statements from those who have provided their thoughts.

  • “He changed the way each of us sees the world.” — President Obama
  • “The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.” — Bill Gates
  • “His focus on the user experience above all else has always been an inspiration to me. He was very kind to reach out to me as I became CEO of Google and spend time offering his advice and knowledge even though he was not at all well.” — Larry Page
  • “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.” — Mark Zuckerberg
  • “He was a historical figure on the scale of a Thomas Edison or Henry Ford, and set the mold for many other corporate leaders in many other industries.” — Walt Mossberg
  • “Everything good I have done, I have done on a Mac.” — John Hodgman (PC in the Mac commercials) via Twitter
  • “People sometimes have goals in life. Steve Jobs exceeded every goal he ever set for himself.” — Steve Wozniak
  • “Steve was a teacher to anyone paying attention, and today is a very sad day for everyone who cares about innovation and high standards.” — Jeff Bezos
  • “Steve’s work made the world a better place for hundreds of millions of people.” — Marc Andreessen
  • The magic of Steve was that while others simply accepted the status quo, he saw the true potential in everything he touched and never compromised on that vision.” — George Lucas
  • “Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply ‘make it great.’ He is why Pixar turned out the way we did and his strength, integrity and love of life has made us all better people. He will forever be a part of Pixar’s DNA. Our hearts go out to his wife Laurene and their children during this incredibly difficult time.” — John Lasseter and Ed Catmull
  • “Steve Jobs was simply the greatest CEO of his generation.” — Rupert Murdoch

New Apple CEO: Inside the Mind and Philosophy of Tim Cook

  • Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook hosted his first iPhone event since taking over the company reigns in August. The Hollywood Reporter provides some interesting insight into Cook’s personality and work ethic.
  • Cook has been with Apple since 1998. Until taking over for Steve Jobs as CEO, he expertly handled company logistics and operations, serving as Mr. Inside to Jobs’ Mr. Outside, suggest the article.
  • His 18-hour workdays are legendary, even amongst Apple employees. “Cook probably gets his stamina from being a fitness buff and is said to be a fan of cyclist Lance Armstrong,” comments THR.
  • Cook is said to be more personable than Jobs was in the position of CEO, taking more time to respond cordially and even with a tone of friendliness to customer emails.
  • Under Jobs, Apple didn’t have a corporate policy matching employees’ charitable donations, but Cook changed that and now Apple will match employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000.

Infographic: What Lessons Can Be Learned from Steve Jobs Ten Commandments?

  • Following Steve Jobs’ departure as CEO of Apple, The Daily Beast has published an insightful infographic that outlines what it sees as the “ten commandments” of Jobs’ business and creative philosophies.
  • The commandments range from “Be ruthless” and “Tap the experts” to “Shun focus groups” and “Prototype to the extreme.”
  • For example, Commandment 1: “Go for perfect — Jobs sweats the details. The night before the first iPod launched, the Apple staff stayed up all night replacing headphone jacks because Jobs didn’t think they were ‘clicky’ enough.”
  • ETCentric staffer Bob Lambert provided the following comments with this submission: “There are many, many tributes to the wisdom and business style of Steve Jobs these days. This one-page infographic is one of the best I’ve seen on the idealogy of the man and the company. What lesson on clear and focused thinking can we take from this?”

Senior RIM Exec Submits Open Letter to BlackBerry Management

  • An open letter to Research In Motion senior management reportedly written by a “high-level RIM employee” gives a frank description of what’s wrong and makes startling recommendations.
  • The letter starts with: “I have lost confidence.”
  • It suggests there is a need to focus on the end user instead of strategic alignments, partner requests or legal advice.
  • It also recommends focusing on a few projects as Apple had to do when Jobs returned — and calls for a “new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO.”
  • Developers, not carriers will “make or break us.” Also, reach out and get input from the employees.

Apple WWDC: New OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud

The much anticipated Apple Worldwide Developers Conference kicked off Monday of this week in San Francisco and continues through tomorrow. To gets things rolling, Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivered the opening keynote and, as expected, focused much of his presentation on the company’s initiatives regarding cloud computing and related services.

Some analysts are commenting that Jobs was not only introducing cloud initiatives during the keynote, but attempting to redefine the very notion of the technology. “It just works,” was Jobs’ repeated mantra while he appeared on stage, suggesting that with iCloud, “Apple is transforming the cloud from an almost tangible place that you visit to find your stuff, to a place that only exists in the background. It’s never seen. You never interact with it, your apps do — and you never realize it. It’s magic,” reports TechCrunch.

In the same article, TechCrunch suggests that Apple is viewing the cloud differently than its competitors (and presenting it in a simpler manner). Also, Apple is placing a greater emphasis on the web component with its MobileMe service and providing iCloud free with iOS 5. Whereas Google and Amazon are concerned with the ideas of servers, disks, data — Apple sees the focus differently. According to TechCrunch: “Files are something Microsoft worries about. Files in the cloud are something Google and Amazon worry about. Apple’s iCloud is about opening an application and the thing you want to access being there.” (For a list of the iCloud offerings, visit the MacDailyNews report.)

iOS 5

Apple previewed iOS 5, the latest version of its mobile operating system (the company also released a beta version to iOS Developer Program members). The beta release includes over 200 new features available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch by the fall. Features include: Notification Center for managing notifications in one place without interruption; iMessage service for easily sending text messages, photos and videos between iOS devices; and Newsstand for organizing newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

iCloud and Music

The response to iTunes in the cloud seems mostly positive so far (and has been helped by Apple signing agreements with all four major music labels). Rolling Stone reports that allowing consumers to “reproduce their entire digital collections on locker-style servers accessible via 10 devices – including iPhones, iPads and computers – may not save the ravaged record industry, but it could provide a crucial new revenue stream while allowing consumers to easily consolidate their music libraries in the cloud.”

“Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy,” Jobs said in San Francisco. “We have a great solution for this problem. We are going to demote the PC to just be a device. We are going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.”

“It is one way to make someone pay for music they’ve already bought. It’s pretty ingenious,” commented Syd Schwartz, a former EMI Music executive in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I’m sure someone in an executive office at a major label somewhere is going, ‘At least that’s one way we can monetize the stuff people stole from Napster over the years.'”

Additional Announcements

Apple’s iCloud announcement was augmented by news of several other products and services. The Nieman Journalism Lab offers an interesting perspective: “In addition to introducing the long-awaited OS X Lion and announcing noteworthy Twitter integration, Apple has also, from the looks of things, gone on a veritable app-eating binge. The company, it announced, has created: ‘Reading List,’ a read-later functionality that allows users to time-shift their consumption of content (sound familiar?); a cloud-storage service, iCloud (which looks remarkably like this one); and a new camera and image-editing feature (kind of like this one).”

From a journalism perspective, Nieman Lab adds: “The biggest news is Apple introduction of Newsstand for iOS, which looks to be essentially an iBooks for publishers’ content — a central location for users’ magazine and newspaper subscriptions. With the new feature (well, new as of this fall), readers can browse a virtual bookshelf — literally, ‘wooden’ and all — and subscribe to a periodical in one tap. New issues will be downloaded in the background, solving one of the biggest problems for magazine publishers who push out issues that are hundreds of megabytes in size.”

Mac OS X Lion

As announced by Apple prior to the WWDC, the company will be releasing its new Mac OS X Lion next month. MacDailyNews reports that Lion will include more than 250 new features, 3,000 new developer APIs and, “will be available to customers in July as a download from the Mac App Store for US$29.99. Some of the amazing features in Lion include: new Multi-Touch gestures; system-wide support for full screen apps; Mission Control, an innovative view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store, the best place to find and explore great software, built right into the OS; Launchpad, a new home for all your apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.”

Apple vs. the World

It’s worth noting that some see Apple’s developments as a significant move forward in challenging its competitors. Robert X. Cringely, for example, has gone as far as suggesting that iCloud’s “real” purpose is to kill Microsoft. In response to Jobs’ contention that iCloud will “demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device – just like an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch,” Cringely explains on his blog that “Jobs is going to sacrifice the Macintosh in order to kill Windows. He isn’t beating Windows, he’s making Windows inconsequential.”

Intentional or not, only time will tell. Let us know your thoughts…

 

Related TechCrunch article: “It Just Works” (6/8/11)

Related TechCrunch article: “On iCloud, Baby” (5/31/11)

Related Rolling Stone article: “How Apple’s iCloud Could Help Save the Music Industry” (6/6/11)

Related Nieman Journalism Lab article: “Newsstand, Reader, iCloud: 3 takeaways for the news business from today’s Apple announcement” (6/7/11)

Related MacDailyNews article: “Apple introduces breakthrough iCloud; free service ‘just works’” (6/6/11)

Related MacDailyNews article: “New iOS 5 includes over 200 new features, including Notification Center, iMessage, Newsstand, Twitter integration” (6/6/11)

Related MacDailyNews article: “Mac OS X Lion with 250 new features available in July via Mac App Store for $29.99” (6/6/11)

Related Patently Apple article: “Apple working on a Sophisticated Infrared System for iOS Cameras” (6/2/11)

Related Wired article (with video): “Jobs Pitches New ‘Mothership’ to Approving Cupertino City Council” (6/8/11)

Related I, Cringely post: “iCloud’s real purpose: kill Microsoft” (6/7/11)

Ultrabook, Padfone and iCloud: Impact on the PC Market?

Personal computing has seen some dramatic shifts in recent years, thanks in large part to the impact of social networking and its integration with entertainment media; the increased capability of smartphones and other portable devices; new high-speed networks and faster, smaller chips; the introduction of tablets and apps — and, of course, the success behind what many are currently labeling “The iPad Effect.”

Consumers have responded with increased demands and expectations regarding the convenience in which they are able to access their information, entertainment and various forms of electronic communication. As CE manufacturers scramble toward meeting these expectations, we are starting to see some interesting new form factors and delivery systems, as well as a potential impact on our more traditional electronic devices.

One of the ways this is playing out is in regards to the design, features, functionality (and competition) of tablets, laptops, netbooks, and PCs. And the prospect of additional changes resulting from cloud computing may accelerate the competition between devices. As we look forward, it should be worth keeping our eyes on the following trends and new products:

The Ultrabook

Intel is promoting a new category of laptops called the “Ultrabook” — a sort of hybrid laptop that incorporates the best features of tablets. The new designs (less than 0.8-inch thick) will be made possible by the latest 2nd-generation Intel Core processors. ASUS is one manufacturer behind the Ultrabook design and hopes to give Apple’s $999 MacBook Air a run for its money with the Ultrabook UX21 (featuring Intel’s i7 CPU and the new SanDisk U100 SSD). Intel predicts Ultrabooks could claim as much as 40 percent of the laptop market by 2012.

According to The Wall Street Journal: “A key goal is to deliver much thinner and lighter laptops, with mainstream price points and tablet-style features such as touchscreens and the ability to switch on quickly to let users call up websites without waiting.”

“They’ll cost under $1000, be extremely thin and portable, start up in seconds, be produced by a number of manufacturers and go on sale before Christmas,” adds Digital Trends in a similar write-up. “The emphasis on the portability and responsiveness of Ultrabooks shows that the world’s biggest chip maker is hoping to make consumers think twice about purchasing mobile devices such as the hugely popular iPad tablet.”

The Padfone

At Computex last week in Taipei, ASUS unveiled another new form factor, the “Padfone” — which Digital Trends describes as “a smartphone with a battery-equipped display dock that turns the device into a tablet.” The “pad” component does not function independently, but essentially serves as a tablet-shaped display with a dock, basically enhancing the phone’s functionality. In addition to a 10.1-inch screen to play with, the Padfone offers extended battery life, speakers, a keyboard, an I/O extender that will allow other devices to communicate with the phone, and functionality for the phone’s camera to keep working while docked. ASUS hinted at additional features that will be announced closer to the product’s planned Christmas release.

Will the Padfone, Ultrabook (or a similar new design) compete with current slate of tablets, laptops and desktop PCs? If the trends continue to push toward convenience, portability, speed, power, Web surfing and cloud services — the answer may be yes. At the very least, they may be the answer to netbooks. WSJ reports in response to the rise of thinner, more powerful devices: “The activity reflects both technology advances and growing pressure on personal-computer makers, particularly the rise of the iPad and other tablets. Goldman Sachs estimates that nearly 18 million of the touchscreen devices were sold in 2010, a figure it expects to swell to 60 million in 2011.”

iPad Tablet Competition

A number of manufacturers currently have tablet PCs on the market, but so far none of the devices (including the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom or BlackBerry PlayBook) have been able to significantly compete with the growing success of the iPad, its many accessories and more than 65,000 apps. However, emerging tablets may impact the market by undercutting the price of the iPad. And with new, more powerful tablet chips from the likes of Intel, ARM and AMD, we may start to see some significant breakthroughs.

Taiwanese manufacturer Acer, for example, recently debuted its Iconia Tab A500 that runs Google’s Android OS. A $449 Wi-Fi version went on sale in April and a new model that works on AT&T’s 4G wireless network is scheduled for a summer release. “While it doesn’t beat either iPad overall, the Iconia Tab offers a decent alternative to Apple, especially for multimedia enthusiasts who want to display their content on a TV, PC or smartphone without additional gear,” reports WSJ.

If a new wave of price-conscious tablets can address the needs of consumers — particularly in regards to subscription- and cloud-based access to media content, video chats via services such as Skype or ooVoo, free and affordable new apps, and even potential glasses-free 3D displays (see the Eee Pad MeMO video demo from Engadget) — then the iPad (and other tablets) may start to feel the heat.

We may also see additional impact on the desktop PC market. It has been reported that PC manufacturers remain optimistic, viewing the recent dip in growth as a temporary bump in the road. However, in a report issued by Gartner this week, PC sales are not expected to grow as much in 2011 as earlier expected. The Gartner analysts blame the collapse of netbooks following the iPad’s release and added that, “regardless of the direct impact of the iPad and its kind, PCs no longer had the safety net they once did. They now had to compete against tablets, phones, set-top boxes and other devices as even the computers themselves were getting more specialized.”

Cloud Computing

A number of companies are gearing up for a new era of automated backup, synchronization, data storage and variety of cloud-based media services. There are those who believe this may be the final nail in the coffin for the desktop PC.

In a recent blog post commenting on Apple’s unveiling of OS X 10.7, iOS 5 and iCloud service — Robert X. Cringely addressed the possibility that Apple CEO Steve Jobs may be taking aim at killing Microsoft. Cringely writes, “Jobs is going to sacrifice the Macintosh in order to kill Windows. He isn’t beating Windows, he’s making Windows inconsequential.”

“We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device — just like an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch. We’re going to move the hub of your digital life to the cloud,” explained Jobs at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this week.

Cringely contends that this is the bold kind of thinking that Microsoft lacks. With Apple leading the charge, he suggests Google may soon take the same approach, “…adding automated backup, synchronization and migration to Android and Chrome.” We may see increased competition between Apple and Google if Cringely is correct in his assertion regarding the company that gets our data in the cloud, gets us as captive customers forever. “Both companies will be grabbing for data, claiming territory, and leaving Microsoft alone to defend a desktop that will soon cease to exist,” he suggests.

Time will tell what impact these changes will have on the desktop PC, but if Cringely is right, it won’t be much time… “This transition will take at most two hardware generations and we’re talking mobile generations, which means three years, total.”

What else?

Are there additional “bigger picture” themes we should be watching for in this sector? Let us know your thoughts…

 

Related Electronista article: “Apple more profitable than Microsoft as netbooks plunge 40%” (4/28/11)

Related Electronista post: “Gartner: PC growth slowing to 9.3% through iPad effect” (6/8/11)

Related Forbes article: “Microsoft Gets Reprieve As Tablets Aren’t Killing PC Sales (Yet)” (6/1/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “PCs See Tablets’ Silver Lining” (6/1/11)

Related Network World article: “AMD finally enters tablet market with new chip” (6/1/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “PC Makers Push Into ‘Ultrabooks'” (5/30/11)

Related Digital Trends article: “PadFone officially revealed, ASUS hints at Ice Cream Sandwich and second-gen tablets” (5/31/11)

Related Engadget post (includes videos): “ASUS announces the Padfone (update: eyes-on!)” (5/30/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “Samsung Leans on Android” (5/31/11)

Related Reuters article: “Intel unveils laptops that include tablet features” (5/31/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “A New Tablet From Acer Challenges iPad on Price” (5/26/11)

Related Gizmag post: “ASUS announces glasses-free Eee Pad MeMO 3D tablet” (6/2/11)

Related O’Reilly Radar article: “The iPad’s ripple effect” (1/31/11)

Walt Mossberg on the New Apple iPad 2

In this video interview from San Francisco, Wall Street Journal “Personal Technology” columnist Walt Mossberg provides his first impressions of the new thinner and lighter Apple iPad 2, premiered by Steve Jobs at an invitation-only event on March 2.

New features worth noting include front and rear-view cameras, a thinner form factor than the iPhone, faster graphics, and dual core processors. It seems that Apple addressed the shortcomings recently targeted in advertising by its competitors. Mossberg comments that Apple did enough to stay ahead, but suggests they’re not going to claim 90 percent of the market share like they did last year due to the sheer volume of competing tablets this time around.

Mossberg comments on Apple’s focus on content creation, as opposed to content consumption, which the company hopes will change the way some consumers see the device. He also suggests it is a big deal that Apple has been able to maintain its $499 price tag for the new version. (The Wi-Fi versions start at $499 for a 16GB model and $699 for a 64GB configuration, while the 3G iPads are priced from $629 to $829.)