DRM is annoying but not new!

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Amazon’s new music store has stirred up the DRM arguments again. Sigh …

In the absence of DRM software music can be copied as many times as you wish. Obviously, this should be done within the terms of your contract. This normally means that you can copy it onto CD’s/mini disk/MP3/(or even tape!) for your own use and your own computers.

DRM at its essence is simply a method to ensure that these usage restrictions are followed. If DRM were correctly implemented it would not hinder your legal use of software you have purchased. However, as yet we lack such a perfect implementation. For example, ITunes, the current dominant music store only lets you copy (the majority of) its music to 5 different computers. This is totally useless if you replace your computer more than five times (currently that will only take me 4 years!)

At the present time the majority of an individuals music collection is ripped from your own CDs. Something that very few people are aware of is that according to UK law you may not make copies of a CD for use at all. You are merely permitted one backup copy which is subject to silly restrictions which make it only useful stored in a cupboard. The point here is that you are not actually permitted to copy your CD on to a portable device (such as iPod) under UK law.

So, sure, Apple restrictions are a pain and Amazon may be on to something with it’s new music store, but what is to stop the recording companies chasing after you for the manipulation of your private music libraries?

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Apple iPhone… NOT any day now

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So, today Apple had their fancy press release and yes, as everyone suspected, it was regarding the iPhone. Are we all psyched? Hardly.

All week they kept us on tender hooks about what was going to be announced. The Apple store in London was going to be kept open late. The store windows had been draped in black. The staff were being given advanced training about an exciting release. Rumors on the internet were flying far and wide: apple TV pay-per-view movies, UK starbucks ipod touch integration or even the release of the iPhone.

And what were we left with? They told us the iPhone release date. But not the “iPhone” that we had hoped for, not any time soon …

So what’s wrong with the new iPhone?

Firstly there is the problem of the mobile broadband. The new iPhone uses EDGE which O2 are actually pushing to support. Wait a minute – isn’t EDGE old news in the UK? Someone needs to tell the Apple guys in the states that we’ve moved on. In the UK the faster slicker better 3G is used not the outdated EDGE technology.

Secondly there is the price. Price was always going to be an issue with the new iPhone as it is with any new techology release from apple. But the cost of the new iPhone is staggering. The tariffs start in the high £35/month bracket and spiral to the heights of £55/month. But what is even amazing is that you have to buy the phone on top of this. At a whopping £269 – practically unheard of for a high street phone. For those of you who haven’t checked out the price of the iPhone in the states this is a cool 30% extra for the privalege of owning an iPhone in Britain.

Thirdly there was the other “privilege” of buying an iPhone in Britain – we have our own unique TV advert. Well not exactly unique. Did no one notice that the advert was simply the American advert dubbed with a British voice? How dumb do they think we are?

Fourthly, why do we have to wait another two months? It’s out in America. They have the technology to support it here? So why do I have to wait till November. The obvious answer is the crass comercialism of Christmas shopping which Apple and O2 are determined to cash in on as much as possible. I remember the days when companies announced products that you could actually buy, not ones you still had to wait for.

I feel a bit sorry for the O2 guys really. On top of having to re-invest in old technology there is the cruel twist of the iPod Touch. No-one told O2 before they signed of the impending Apple announcement of the new iPod Touch which has as most of the iPhone features (except the phone part obviously). I bet O2 were not happy that they had not been told about that one!

So will I be rushing out to buy an iPhone on the 9th of November. Hmm, probably not, but I do want an iPhone – I will likely be importing mine for the US, unlocking it with now widely available software and use it with my current contract. This way will I not only save a fortune, I will get my I phone 6 whole weeks earlier!