Apple and Jobs successful marketing idea
This article is copyright free and is published in Marketing Tips » Marketing
This week Mr. Jobs gave another explanation for his former defence of DRM: the record companies made him do it. They would make their music available to the iTunes store only if Apple agreed to protect it using DRM. They can still withdraw their catalogues if the DRM system is compromised. Apple cannot license FairPlay to others, says Mr Jobs, because it would depend on them to produce security fixes promptly. All DRM does is restrict consumer choice and provide a barrier to entry, says Mr Jobs; without it there would be far more stores and players, and far more innovation. So, he suggests, why not do away with DRM and sell music unprotected? “This is clearly the best alternative for consumers,” he declares, “and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat.”
Why the sudden change of heart? Mr Jobs seems chiefly concerned with getting Europe’s regulators off his back. Rather than complaining to Apple about its use of DRM, he suggests, “those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free.” Two and a half of the four big record companies, he helpfully points out, are European-owned. Mr Jobs also hopes to paint himself as a consumer champion. Apple resents accusations that it has become the Microsoft of digital music. I think most of China jaw crusher and rotary dryer plants can learn his marketing idea to “lock in” customers.
Apple can afford to embrace open competition in music players and online stores. Consumers would gravitate to the best player and the best store, and at the moment that still means Apple’s. Mr Jobs is evidently unfazed by rivals to the iPod.
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This is a change of tack for Apple. It has come under fire from European regulators who claim that its refusal to license Fair Play to other firms has “locked in” customers. Since music from the iTunes store cannot be played on non-iPod music-players (at least not without a lot of fiddling), any iTunes buyer will be deterred from switching to a device made by a rival firm, such as Sony or Microsoft. When French lawmakers drafted a bill last year compelling Apple to open up FairPlay to rivals, the company warned of “state-sponsored piracy”. Only DRM, it implied, could keep the pirates at bay.
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