Stunning analysis. But not in a good way.

Fortune’s Deirdre Terry asks some questions about Jobs’ DRM statement that no one’s thought of:

So yes, it would be more convenient for everyone if all digital files could be played by any player or any other digital device. But where’s the customer clamor?

Could Jobs’ eloquent plea on behalf of consumers all be a gambit to force Apple’s content suppliers to renegotiate their deals and make it possible to download music and video directly onto the iPhone?

Unfortunately for Terry, the reason no one’s thought of them is probably because they’re so blindingly ignorant.

While customers aren’t exactly in revolt over FairPlay (Doctorow’s not a customer anymore), there is ample outcry for DRM-free music and plenty of evidence that DRM is what’s holding back the online music business.

But it’s her main point that’s so eye-poppingly bizarre. There’s absolutely nothing the Macalope knows of from a licensing perspective that would stop Apple from allowing someone to directly buy and download FairPlay-protected music from iTunes on an iPhone. He certainly wouldn’t want to try it using Cingular’s crappy EDGE data transfer speeds and wouldn’t want to try syncing on a regular basis on anything short of 802.11n [Edited for clarity as the Macalope was thinking “syncing” by not typing it. Damn these hooves!]. That’s probably why the iPhone — right now — seems to require USB docking to iTunes to transfer music.

It’s a rather baffling why Terry seems to think that Apple’s deal with the recording companies prevents FairPlay-protected songs from being transmitted over 802.11. That’s obviously not true as you can share your library over a network and stream it to an Airport base station.

Does Fortune pay for analysis like this? And how much?

  • I don’t get this fascination with downloading music over a telephone. What total lack of self control must one have in being unable to wait until getting home to download a song. Doesn’t it cost considerably more to download a song on a phone? You pay for the song and you pay for the data transfer on the phone, don’t you? Also, no matter how fast the phone download is, your computer download is considerably faster. It just doesn’t seem like a feature worth clamoring over.

  • Joblo:

    Does the macalope realize that the average high-speed home internet connection in the US is less than 1/10th the speed of 802.11n?

    Saying that you wouldn’t want to download from iTunes on anything short of it seems awfully silly.

  • The Macalope wondered:

    “Does Fortune pay for analysis like this? And how much?”

    Deirdre probably gets paid in bananas…

  • Joblo, you’re absolutely right. The Macalope was thinking of syncing. But buying one track at a time wouldn’t be a problem or it would be from his Mac.

  • Shane:
    The whole fascination over downloading over the phone is that then the music becomes the ultimate impulse buy.

  • Jeff Berg:

    Shane doesn’t understand the “lack of self control” when it come to buying music directly using the iPhone or a similar device.

    I grant his point that it may cost more to purchase a song this way–we won’t know if this is true until we learn the terms of the data plan(s) offered–but even if it does cost a little more, some people might not care–particularly if they’re going to be “away from their desk” for a little while. Sometimes you’re more than a couple of hours away from your “home” computer.

    To some folks music is more than just a pleasant background noise. There was a point when I scrimped on food money to by “albums.” (You know, the vinyl kind with a little hole in the middle.) Now that those days are, thankfully, past, I’m not going to worry that much about paying a few extra pennies(?) to pull down the cool new track that was just recommended by a friend or that I just heard on the radio–or an “oldie” that is suddenly playing an endless loop in my head and refuses to go away–while traveling.

    Blattapus calls it an impulse buy but for me the purchase is inevitable, so what I’m really paying a premium for is the immediate gratification.

    Hope this helps to explain the fascination. Best regards.

  • Obvioso:

    Another somewhat obvious analysis is that the carrier doesn’t want their network hogged by music or video downloads. We don’t know who put that restriction in, Apple or the carrier, so it’s silly to assume it was Apple.

  • tim:

    I agre with your analysis that this is a pile of rubbish. Let’s say you own an iPhone and it’s already synced to your home computer (Mac or PC). When you’re on a WiFi network you buy a track and it downloads from iTunes. When you get home the track is transferred to your home computer automatically (recent updates to iTunes allow uploads of purchased songs). But it will only transfer up to the machine it was synced with and the one that you have an account with that matches the iTunes account, i.e. the account holder. Why would Apple need to strip DRM to do that?

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