Thursday, July 20, 2006

Digital Distribution Is t3h r0xx0rz!!!

Yahoo is offering unrestricted mp3s that could be played and copied to and from any device. Right now, they have only one mp3 (that is, a file in the unrestricted mp3 format) for $2. Soon, there could be more at lower prices.

Apple's iPod only allows Apple DRM on its iPod, and a select few other formats, like mp3.* If other music stores want to offer something the teeming millions of iPod owners can use, they'll have to offer unrestricted content. So in some sense, Apple made this inevitable. There are only two questions: 1) will the labels let this happen, and 2) will consumers care?

If you own an iPod/iTunes, what would you pay per track to be allowed a few more rights. Would you pay anything more at all?

As much as I love open standards, it's important to remember that not all consumers are ideologues like myself. Maybe Apple has just locked itself in, and that's the way it's going to be. The only way other music stores can compete will be by offerring more eclectic selections, or subscription based models that make songs effectively cheaper. emusic, the number two player in the music store game, is doing just that.

*Using the Rockbox software, significantly more files can be played, but no more DRM formats, and few iPod users use such third party software.

Also, on the movies side, EP and I talk a lot about the imminent digital netflix. Netflix is awesome, but it'd be even awesomer if we cut out the needless cost of shipping.

That's slowly becoming a serious possibility, with download and burn services like these. Will the studios ever eventually let us subscribe to watch any movie ever made at our leisure?

Will our culture become entirely subscription based?