Sony does it all. They create movies, music and the devices that allow users to enjoy them both. They should be at the pinnacle of success. Instead, Apple snatched that success from their grasp, thanks to their own fears about DRM, or Digital Rights Management.
From last week's Wall Street Journal article on the subject:
"Sony's "DRM implementation killed their own players and created an environment where Apple could flourish," says Rob Enderle, a technology analyst with Enderle Group, a consulting firm in San Jose, California."
And from the same article, here's Sony's response:
"The general idea is that there is a need to create more open...digital-rights management technologies," says Ron Hawkins, Sony's vice president of portable reader systems in the U.S. The company has been coming to this realization over the past few years, and it is being reinforced by Sony's new chief executive, Howard Stringer. In the keynote address at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Mr. Stringer argued that content and technology companies must work together to deliver entertainment in a way that is more palatable to consumers."No kidding, Howard!
My take on this is that the entire DRM debate is based on fear, just like the Google vs. Authors Guild struggle. Fear that easy access means piracy, and that's just not right. Content will always seek it's broadest audience, and companies that try to restrict access to it will always fail. That has never been truer than in today's global web-based communications environment.
The key to protecting rights and getting paid is as simple as the difference in how dogs and cats are handled at the veterinarian. When trying to control a dog, you tighten your hold. When trying to control a cat, you loosen your hold. DRM, properly executed, is a cat. Find ways to protect rights through a light touch on the content, like Apple does with iTunes: $0.99 per download and everyone's happy.