Steve Jobs has been heard saying that the upcoming Apple tablet “will be the most important thing I’ve ever done.” —Mac Rumors
Apple’s iPad has been the headline quite frequently lately with its forthcoming release in the next few days. One of its biggest criticisms comes from its inability to operate similar to Apple’s full OS. Instead, users are limited to applications approved by Apple available in their iTunes store. In essence, Apple has created a proprietary DRM system which will limit and slow down the evolution of the product. According to Ars Technica “books purchased through the iBookstore will have Fairplay DRM and won’t be compatible with other e-readers.” Apple went through this same exact process with the recording industry a little less than a year ago now. Similar to the iPad, Amazon’s Kindle is also locked up in DRM and unlinke the iPad can’t even make a deal with the publishing industry to allow users to read their texts aloud to them.
The problem with closed systems like the iPad is that it doesn’t allow for true competition resulting in the users suffering the most. What’s to stop—or even incentivize—Apple from allowing Mozilla to offer their browser Fire Fox for the iPad? They have been known to do it in the past and we only need to look to last summer for an example: the Google voice app that was denied. What’s disappointing is that these products could evolve and become more useful at much more rapid rate and in the end it is the consumers who are suffering the consequences. Like Cory Doctorow said, DRM only hurts the honest users, there will always be a group of more advanced users who will work around the system.