NYT: iPhone = “Crippleware”

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Date: Monday, January 15th, 2007, 08:51
Category: Uncategorized


STEVE JOBS, Apple’s showman nonpareil, provided the first public glimpse of the iPhone last week – gorgeous, feature-laden and pricey. While following the master magician’s gestures, it was easy to overlook a most disappointing aspect: like its slimmer iPod siblings, the iPhone’s music-playing function will be limited by factory-installed “crippleware.”

If “crippleware” seems an unduly harsh description, it balances the euphemistic names that the industry uses for copy protection. Apple officially calls its own standard “FairPlay,” but fair it is not.

The term “crippleware” comes from the plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit, Melanie Tucker v. Apple Computer Inc., that is making its way through Federal District Court in Northern California. The suit contends that Apple unfairly restricts consumer choice because it does not load onto the iPod the software needed to play music that uses Microsoft’s copy-protection standard, in addition to Apple’s own.

Want an iPhone? Beware the iHandcuffs – New York Times

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STEVE JOBS, Apple’s showman nonpareil, provided the first public glimpse of the iPhone last week – gorgeous, feature-laden and pricey. While following the master magician’s gestures, it was easy to overlook a most disappointing aspect: like its slimmer iPod siblings, the iPhone’s music-playing function will be limited by factory-installed “crippleware.”

If “crippleware” seems an unduly harsh description, it balances the euphemistic names that the industry uses for copy protection. Apple officially calls its own standard “FairPlay,” but fair it is not.

The term “crippleware” comes from the plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit, Melanie Tucker v. Apple Computer Inc., that is making its way through Federal District Court in Northern California. The suit contends that Apple unfairly restricts consumer choice because it does not load onto the iPod the software needed to play music that uses Microsoft’s copy-protection standard, in addition to Apple’s own.

Want an iPhone? Beware the iHandcuffs – New York Times

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One Response to “NYT: iPhone = “Crippleware””

  1. Sheesh. “crippleware” is the DRM-protected *music* being sold, not the player. The iPod plays any music that hasn’t been crippled by DRM (e.g., MP3). It also plays music that’s been crippled by Apple’s own DRM scheme. And it’s true, it doesn’t play Microsoft’s PlaysForSure-crippled music. (Of course, neither does Microsoft’s own Zune.) Blame the companies who are crippling their music. Or, since making a compelling business case for them to just give their music away unemcumbered is a bit difficult, vote with your wallet on the least-onerous DRM scheme — which, for my money, is buying a CD and ripping it yourself.