Understanding the market

Why doesn't Apple do what I want?!

The Macalope was thrilled to see that Steve Jobs has issued another statement about digital music and DRM (tip o' the antlers to BoingBoing).

Let's see what Steve has to say.

I'm here to tell you today that I for one am no longer going to fall into this trap. If the licensing labels offering their content to Apple put more barriers in front of the users, I'm not interested. Do what you feel you need to do for your business, I'll be polite, say thank you, and decline to sign. I won't let Apple invest any more money in consumer inconvenience. We will to use the money to build more exciting hardware, or put it toward further developing OS X or iLife or some other deserving endeavor. I personally don't have any more time to give and can't bear to see any more money spent on pathetic attempts for control instead of building consumer value. Life's too short. I want to delight consumers, not bum them out.

Oh, wait. That's not right. Somehow it got munged in the copy/paste. Sorry. Replace "Apple" with "Yahoo!" and "Steve Jobs" with "Yahoo! Music's Ian Rogers".

Sorry about that. Not sure how that happened.

Maybe it's because when the Macalope was reading Rogers' speech he thought that it was the kind of speech he wished Steve Jobs had given.

Apple fans -- the horny one included -- lambasted Universal for not letting Apple sell DRM-free tracks through iTunes. So, here's a thought. Why couldn't Steve Jobs have simply said, "OK, screw it. If you won't give us DRM-free tracks when you will give them to other companies, take a hike. That's right, pack up your bags and get out. And, no, those are not your CDs, those are my CDs. And the dog stays."

The same thing they did with NBC (although, perusing NBC's page on iTunes the Macalope sees that, while they're not an "item" anymore, Apple and NBC continue to be "friends with fringe benefits").

But here's the thing about Apple. They're not concerned with party politics. They're focused on what the average customer wants. And the average customer doesn't care that much about DRM. Really. The horny one knows we geeks all get worked up over it (well, not Cory Doctorow-style, but that's borderline auto-erotic asphyxiation in two wet suits kind of worked up about it), but many customers don't even know it exists. And they don't care as long as (let's all say it together!) it plays on their iPod.

Hmm. This reminds the Macalope of another argument. Something about third-party applications on the iPhone...

See, the Macalope may personally want third-party applications on the iPhone and he may personally want Steve Jobs to give the recording industry what for, but that doesn't mean Apple's going to do it or that they should do it.

Why? Because Joe Consumer (that's not a fake name -- that's actually an Apple customer in Fort Wayne, Indiana) is more concerned with his phone and his iPod just working with a minimum of steps than he is with having every last possible choice for features and with ensuring his personal rights for fair use for the rest of his natural life.

Which is why the Macalope has to point out that Andy Ihnatko is wrong.

On this week's MacBreak Weekly (which prominently features discussion of the Macalope's response to last week's MacBreak Weekly), Andy's concern about Apple denying third parties an iPhone SDK is that an iPhone user will one day wistfully look over at some d00d in a suit editing a Word document on a plane.

Seriously. That was his argument.

OK, disclaimer time again. First of all, it sounded more reasonable when Andy said it and, while he used Word as an example, he's more talking about "that one app" an iPhone user might theoretically want. Second, as with Leo Laporte and Chris Breen, the Macalope has the utmost respect for Andy. As a matter of fact, Andy's writing is one of the reasons the Macalope got into blogging in the first place. His takedown of the Zune is a glorious work of art that should be enshrined in a museum somewhere.

But, clearly, that scenario is crazy koo-koo bananas. Consumers -- the target market for the iPhone -- do not want to sit on a plane and edit a Word document. That's the last thing they want to do. That's their definition of hell. Hurtling through the air in a big metal Tylenol with 250 other angry passengers eating salted snack products, drinking diuretics while strapped into a chair next to Bill Lumbergh and wondering "What the hell was that bump? Can turbulence really take one of these things down? What's the stress tolerance of that wing, anyway?", they sure as hell don't want to edit a fricking Word document on a 3-inch screen. They don't want to edit an Excel document. They don't want to work on their "Getting Things Done" action items.

No, they want to watch a movie. They want to listen to music. They want to flip through pictures of themselves on that beach on Maui they just left and console themselves that their last days on this earth were spent well. They want to do that voodoo that the iPhone already does do so well.

So, Andy, the pointy one loves ya, but... um, no.

And that's really the whole thing, isn't it. The whole craziness that seems to have engulfed most of the Apple pundit class for that past few weeks in particular. There's a disconnect between what you want, and what Apple's target market for iTunes and the iPhone wants. Of course, the iPhone concern may all be moot in a few weeks, but the point will still remain.

If anyone's going to be looking enviously at someone's phone, it's going to be Bill Lumbergh.

Mmm, yeah.

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About the author

    Born of the earth, forged in fire, the Macalope was branded "nonstandard" and "proprietary" by the IT world and considered a freak of nature. Part man, part Mac, and part antelope, the Macalope set forth on a quest to save his beloved platform. Long-eclipsed by his more prodigious cousin, the jackalope (they breed like rabbits, you know), the Macalope's time has come. Apple news and rumormonger extraordinaire, the Macalope provides a uniquely polymorphic approach. Disclosure.

     

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