I was listening to “Apple v. Real v. Microsoft – Law and IT” from IT Conversations this morning when I got the idea.
Obviously, what the Real iPod hack does is they unpack their own DRM format and re-pack it into Apple’s (also proprietary) FairPlay format. From a business standpoint, I don’t think that Real will succeed. Apple delivers “the iPod experience”, a complete package of software, hardware and solutions that can’t be improved by *anything* Real could offer.
So, the whole choice for the consumer is to what kind of proprietary DRM format he wants to commit. A classic “pick your poison” choice. Ultimately, what the consumer wants is NOT to have to worry about DRM, copy protection, FairPlay, CD burning limitations, music formats or authorizing/de-authorizing computers.
The software companies don’t want to do that, either. The only reason they do it is to lull the music industry into the illusion that this will stop pirates from copying their music.
What about a new secure file system that would be able to store DRMed data of any vendor, store it securely and allow only authorized access to its content, converting on the fly to whatever target device the user tries to copy stuff to. Make that OS independent, and you can really create a broad target market for DRMed data. This should be possible with the Trusted Computing Platform. (Whether I believe that consumers care about something like that is a completely different story – but at least it could create a more compatible and widespread technical platform for digital content to live in).