Standards and Openness

Norway's consumer ombudsman has declared the Apple iTMS (iTunes Music Store) illegal for selling music which may only be played on the Apple iPod or through the iTunes software. I agree with this action by the Norwegian government and I strongly encourage other enlightened governments to join Norway to hopefully force an opening of iTunes standards setting a good precedent.

Openness and standardisation within the media as with electrical outlets and computer parts are only to the advantage of consumers and society as a whole. It is true that hundreds of millions of people have purchased iPods or have used iTMS despite the unfair limitations. This speaks very highly of Apple's technology and design. However, Apple will continue to have overwhelming success with this product even in a more competitive environment for music distribution.

I mentioned electrical outlets because while travelling last week, I forgot to bring my cellphone charger. Since virtually every cellphone provider and every manufacturer has their own recharger standards, the markets on rechargers are virtually cornered with artificially created demand. I could not just borrow a friends charger because likely they use a different provider, so in a bind one must buy an entirely new charger for somewhere around $25 USD. Luckily in my case, my hotel had a whole collection of chargers that unlucky guests had left in the room so I was able to find a compatible charger for my phone.

Incidentally, Norwegian legend Jon Lech Johansen may have already solved the iTunes DRM difficulties in practice.

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