Apple & EMI offer DRM free downloads

... OK, so this is not about China (but I could mention that (China's estimated market for illegal music was US$400 million last year),

And in my defense I am not yet in Hong Kong but this story is to interesting not to write about.

This concerns the development of online music and while the focus is on apple/EMI I would hope (scratch, I am sure) that Motorola, Nokia and the other phone manufactures will be on this ride as well the other music labels.

EMI is FINALLY going to offer DRM free music (I might add I have commented on this for the last 4 years). but better late than never, and since many of us were left thinking that it was going to be never I am happy at this announcement.

This is big news on so many fronts and to so many people. And yet again its apple that leads the way. Lets look at the impact on a few of the players:

1. The consumer: WINNER
We could argue the most important group in the mix (yet not always treated as such). Finally, consumers have an opportunity to buy online DRM free music. Big deal?! YES! If you can buy a CD without DRM, why not online. It seemed so odd that an industry in decline held back this new technology for so long. EMI and the others are very lucky that people continued to buy their music.

2. The Mobile phone manufactures: DEPENDS
Having worked for both Samsung and Motorola I know that this will be a big deal. There are 10 times more phones than iPods, now is the time for these guys to get their music strategies in line and take on apple.

3. The "big" apple: WINNER
Some have questioned why apple would push DRM free music. One of the reasons is I suspect why they are such an amazing company. They don't seem to fear new technologies nor competitors they welcome them and take the challenge on. Its interesting that Sony nor Microsoft managed to get this music deal done, yet apple did. A change for the better.

4. Microsoft: LOOSER
Ahh.. The big looser here (for now of course) Zune not doing so well and partners that were shut out of the new music (note DRM formatted). I am sure that they will now push this new model but the damage has been done to them and it will hurt in the short term.

5. Napster/YAHOO GOOGLE: LOSERS (for now):
Tougher still for these players. The less DRM the more people will move music suppliers? I find that argument very unlikley. This helps apple and will not help the third party suppliers who do not have hardware to run the music from.

Overall: The points go to apple for this round. Then again have we come to expect anything less?



Interesting that the first move in the DRM free music space was a combination of Apple and EMI. The EMI part makes sense as they are a business that is really suffering from the consequences of the digital revolution and therefore have perhaps the least to lose of the major labels. For Apple, on the other hand, as the market leader in the digital music space this is a much bigger call and one which is to be throughly applauded! As you point out the consumer is the real winner here but I for one hope that Apple's boldness will be rewarded too.