DRM hits Home

As usual, I’ve had a lot of thoughts swirling in my head recently. It is interesting in this age of technology how many of the constraints are man-made.

Betamax vs VHS
Betamax vs VHS

There was a time when market forces dictated which products would win or lose.

The need to remain competitive created independent research & development contributed efforts which then created many competing technologies. These technologies were different at a physical level out of necessity. For example, a Ford engine and a Chevrolet engine.

In the technology and information age, it seems that many of these difference are imposed by the developers to prevent cross-compatibility. Why?

I think the basic thought process is “Why compete in the same market with your competitors when you can create your own market?”

By creating a very closed-off market, under the guise of high-performance and compatibility (Apple, Betamax, et. al), you can create an artificial barrier to entry (and exit). The key to this strategy is convincing consumers that you have something special that is worth the extra cost, and loss of control.

Another way to protect these fabricated markets is DRM. When you cannot block it physically, you can block it at the software level.

The latest example of this is Phillips implementing DRM on Lightbulbs. As usual, I’m sure this is under the guise of “ensuring a high performance system”. Also as usual, the end-users are not stupid and see it for what it is.

In my opinion, companies who do not have something truly of value to offer will protect what they are selling to try to maintain their hold on the market they have created.

The companies that listen to their consumers,  or offer true advantages, will do far better than those who try to create their own markets and strengthen their walls in an effort to keep their customers (and profits) in.

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