If you hear an ‘oink’… duck!

Yes my friends, the time has come to be vigilant for low flying pigs.

Why you ask? Well listen closely… very closely.. cause I’m only going to say this once. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer said something that I actually agree with. Gasp! Ekk! Did I really just say that?

Now, in case you haven’t been following along, it is really no secret that I don’t have a lot of love for Microsoft. Not only have they laid waste to the technology industry for decades now, but they have some (P.C. mode) kinda goofy (/P.C. mode) characters heading the company up. One of these would be ‘monkey boy’ Steve Ballmer. Think I’m being too harsh? You be the judge:


Anyway… I’m reading the tech headlines, as I typically do, and I run across this article that frankly, I can’t disagree with to any great extent.

http://www.heise.de/english/newsticker/news/72412 (1)link removed, no longer available

What is going on here. First the the iPod packaging experiment leaks out of M$. Then, Steve Ballmer is saying things that actually make some sense? Things are getting scary in Redmond.

He recognizes that the keyboard and mouse aren’t going to go away, though other input methods will advance. I have to give him a lot of credit for admitting this, especially after the fuss that was made over Origami. (see my previous blog)

He also talks about Google’s key not being the search engine, but the business model. Who can argue with that? You have to make a decision between good and evil at some point. I’m glad he recognizes this.

But, what really caught my attention, is what he said about the future of the iPod. It’s no secret that Ballmer is more than just a bit jealous of the success of the iPod. In a March 29, 2006 article in Fortune magazine, when asked if he used an iPod, he said, “No, I do not. Nor do my children. My children–in many dimensions they’re as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I’ve got my kids brainwashed: You don’t use Google, and you don’t use an iPod.”

The key in the current article, however, is that he sees something that Apple might want to wake up to REAL quick. Ballmer said, “Portable music is not limited to iPods.” So far, Apple’s strategy seems to be in keeping the music limited to the hardware. I, along with Ballmer, think this trend isn’t going to last all that much longer. The problem isn’t really the iPod itself, but how the music is locked to it.

For example, other than using up some gift certificates I was given at the iTunes Music Store, I won’t buy more music there. I love the experience. I love the convenience. I love technology in general. I love the iPod! But sooner or later people will wake up to the reality of what they are being sold. Unlike the normal CD in the store, you get a lower quality version that is locked to the hardware Apple (or the music industry) will allow you to play it on.

I put a nice car stereo in my Miata. It can play MP3 and AAC tracks. Can it play what I buy from the iTunes Music Store? Nope… not without a bunch of quality loss. Up until a few months back, I was able to use a great program called JHymn (2)no longer necessary to free my purchases to play on my car stereo. But, with iTunes v6 the party is over. What I buy is once again locked to my computer. Sorry, but that is not good enough for me… especially at the 99 cents per track price. If it were 25 to 50 cents… I might be interested in a lower quality version. But at full price, I’ll just buy the CDs.

But, I can’t just blame Apple here. It really is the fault of the music industry, as well as a society seriously lacking morals. These two forces are locked in an opposing battle, and it is us honest consumers who get burned. Some want to steal and distribute the music while the music industry doesn’t have the ability (or wherewithal) to catch the real offenders. So, we end up with the sad world of DRM. And, if you think any of this is bad… I think you ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait a couple years when DRM invades just about every facet of your interaction with TV, movies, music, and phone. It might be enough to make us just want to ‘pull the technology plug’, so to speak.