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Comment: Re: Change in operations instead of cash.... (Score 1) 246

by Divebus (#48504235) Attached to: 10-Year-Old iTunes DRM Lawsuit Heading To Trial

Which market was Apple a monopoly in? Making Macs? That's about all I can think of. Monopolies are not illegal, but abusing a monopoly is. Apple was in nothing but an uphill battle against everyone else and they overcame competitors with products nobody else could package right.

What harmed other music players was they were mostly shit compared to the iPod. I already owned a few players when I first touched an iPod and thought "wow, so this is how it's supposed to work".

Follow that on with the computer industry's self-admitted iPod Halo Effect. In that era, everyone with an iPod was thinking "if this thing is so good, I wonder what their computers are like". The Apple Stores which started opening in 2001 let people see for themselves. In 2005, when Apple opened their 100th retail store, a lot of people I knew began dumping their PCs for Macs.

An Apple store opened near my former job and people would go there for lunch to see what a slick computer experience looked like, because they sure weren't seeing it on PCs. For the next five years, I knew more people who used to own a PC and bought Macs, including some very combative Windows users who never touched a Mac before. Now, I hardly know anyone who automatically buys PCs, and I'd say all of them owned iPods first when the trend started. That's what killed the competition.

That was also the era where Microsoft started feeling consumer backlash. The mantra of "Windows Windows Windows" made people think of pain and suffering, not an ecosystem they deliberately wanted. Fewer people trusted Microsoft and viewed Plays For Sure as another lure into a stagnant technology future. They were right.

It's probably hard for the Slashdot crowd to understand there are large numbers of people who don't care about hacking systems. In their eyes, fiddling with technology is far different from using it. Even I know that most hackers pride themselves on doing things the most difficult way possible and call people who would rather click an icon and make something work stupid, but the hackers are still in the minority by a long shot.

For full disclosure, I'm a sysadmin maintaining about 50 servers, 1.5 PByte of online Fiber storage and 50 user facing workstations. Most of the servers are HP/Windows/Linux and most of the workstations are now Macs. When I started there in 2010, all the workstations were PCs. I salted in three Macs amongst 30 Windows workstations and watched the users start fighting over them. People would come to work early so they wouldn't get the Windows machines.

Comment: Re: Change in operations instead of cash.... (Score 1) 246

by Divebus (#48504065) Attached to: 10-Year-Old iTunes DRM Lawsuit Heading To Trial

...this is about the biggest online music store tying one product to another such that the only portable music player you could use was the ipod.

The iPod was the only player engineered to uphold the antipiracy protections demanded by the record labels when purchasing from iTunes. Could someone else have joined a Fairplay coalition? Of course, but Apple was under no obligation to license that technology. There were many many alternatives to players and the store anyway, so the iPod was far from a monopoly. RealNetworks cracked Fairplay several times which was a breach of Apple's contract with the labels and Apple had to engage in electronic warfare with Real to keep them from cracking the encryption Apple guaranteed. The labels didn't want any decrypted files leaking into the wild (HA!) and anything which occurred outside of Apple's technology loop was treated like a renegade hacker.

Palm started copying Apple's USB port IDs to allow their devices to sync with iTunes. After some cat and mouse there, even the USB Implementers Forum sided with Apple and told Palm they were in the wrong for copying Apple's USB codes. If Palm or Real or anyone else doesn't like Apple not giving them free access to what they've built, then build something better. Go ahead and try. Nobody did. Apple didn't hack its way into acceptance but a lot of others were trying to hack their way into Apple's system.

Ballmer himself called the iPod a piracy platform. Even then, the number of music stores which worked with players competing with the iPod were numerous. Microsoft's DRM'd WMA format was offered by AOL MusicNow, Yahoo! Music Unlimited, Spiralfrog, MTV URGE, MSN Music, Musicmatch Jukebox, Wal-Mart Music Downloads, Ruckus Network, PassAlong Networks, Rhapsody, iMesh and BearShare. The iTunes Store was far from a monopoly.

The competing Plays For Sure music players were made by Archos, Cingular, Cowon, Creative Labs, Denon, Digitrex, D-Link, Ericsson, Insignia, iriver, Kyocera, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Pioneer, Philips, Roku, RCA, Samsung, SanDisk, Sonos, Sony and Toshiba. The iPod was severely outnumbered. The competition was huge and didn't fail until 2007 when Microsoft brought out the Zune and left everyone flapping in the breeze... except Apple.

All of these music players could not play non-Microsoft encoding formats by contract, including MP3 initially until a huge backlash forced Microsoft to allow it. There's your antitrust target. A court case forced Microsoft to soften that later, but it was too late by then. Apple was under no obligation to license their ecosystem to other manufacturers just as Microsoft would not license WMA to Apple (don't know if they tried). That's not illegal. And why would they join with these people anyway? Apple just came out of an era where they let other manufacturers determine the success of their products by selectively supporting what worked for them, not Apple. Apple started selling their own software, invented or purchased, to replace what everyone else was failing at and they did pretty well. What is illegal is to disallow competition by force of presence like Microsoft did to the Plays For Sure partners.

Any player that supported "Plays For Sure" could also support AAC if they wanted, there was no restriction that forced them to only play "Plays For Sure" media just like there was no restriction that forced iPods to only play Fairplay media.

The Microsoft Plays For Sure license prohibited makers of portable devices compatible with WMA from using non-Microsoft audio encoding formats. If player manufacturers wanted to get on the Microsoft Gravy Train that was certain to flatten this iPod nonsense, they were not allowed to play AAC files. Even iRiver had to abandon Ogg Vorbis to get Plays For Sure certification. Does that help make you a little mad at Ballmer?

I totally get why everyone believes the iPod and iTunes were made to lock everyone else out. Problem is, all the other manufacturers were doing the same thing and iTunes did not hold the majority position at that time. What killed everyone else was not monopolistic force, it was constant improvement of the iPod product category in ways the competition couldn't follow.

The competitors against the iPod were also competing with each other and they created a clumsy, fragmented presence which looked pretty shitty against the fit and finish of the iPod ecosystem. In the face of almost no viable competition, for years, iPod capabilities and offerings increased several times a year without increasing prices to match.

If you look it up, you'll find Ballmer and the record labels were dreaming to sell time bomb singles for $2.50 apiece once the iPod was swept away. You may have also forgotten that for several years before Apple worked out the deal with the music companies, there were companies selling songs online including the record labels themselves with their own stores.

It's easy to sit back and say Apple engineered this monopolistic presence and that's how they won the war. Facts of history say something different. Apple won the war by making an increasingly superior product which satisfied everyone except whoever posts on Slashdot, and that number is in the many millions.

...no other software was every able to do that

Like what? Really, I don't know. WinAmp? YamiPod? Foobar2K? MediaChest? How are they doing from 2005? Or are you talking more present day things, well out of the time frame of the complaint against Apple? doubleTwist? Fidelia? So, I don't know of a real competitor to iTunes when it comes to meta tagging and arranging music and video. There's always Rdio and Spotify to compete with where it's really going - streaming and the perpetual pay model. Have you tried the Beats Music service? Dr. Dre and his bunch made a really nice system there and Apple purchasing them confirms it.

Cheers.

Comment: Re: Change in operations instead of cash.... (Score 1) 246

by Divebus (#48503013) Attached to: 10-Year-Old iTunes DRM Lawsuit Heading To Trial

Of course it wasn't a problem because Apple was not a monopoly in desktop, browsers or music players. In 2004, the iPod represented 42% of all music players and they opened the iPod to other platforms.

DRM was a requirement by the music industry to move forward in legal downloads. Apple didn't force anyone to do anything, including buy their iPods or load it with music only from the store. iTunes was a mechanism to rip CDs and load your iPod with unencumbered music files or load it with your Napster MP3 files.

I'd say they were pretty open about it and Apple ditched DRM as soon as the music industry let them, well after other music stores could ditch DRM.

Comment: Re: Change in operations instead of cash.... (Score 1) 246

by Divebus (#48500621) Attached to: 10-Year-Old iTunes DRM Lawsuit Heading To Trial

The iPod was first and foremost an MP3 player. Where did they force anyone to buy music through the iTunes Store?

Where's the lawsuit against Microsoft to force all the hundreds of "Plays For Sure" players to not play AAC files? Everyone knows AAC is a dialect of Dolby Digital and not an Apple invention, right? It's just associated with Apple in a big way because that's what they picked.

Did everyone forget the media exit doorway Apple left in place? You can burn an unrestricted CD of whatever DRM'd file you have and put it anywhere in any format.

I don't particularly like iTunes myself, but it's a damn sight better than shoving files around where the massive file names contain all your metadata. iTunes organizes the library, let's you metatag everything, let's you search by lots of criteria and let's you manipulate collections into handy playlists. That includes MP3 files which interoperate nicely. Shoving raw files around is relatively Byzantine, but to each his own.

Most of the restrictions people complain about are to prevent piracy and Apple had a responsibility to put some of those restrictions in place. However, they supported the "Rip Mix Burn" model in spite of the record companies. This could be a real short case if anyone takes off the hysterical blinders.

Comment: Re:Open Source? (Score 1) 193

by Divebus (#46417773) Attached to: F-Secure: Android Accounted For 97% of All Mobile Malware In 2013

Fair enough... but nobody "found" the GnuTLS bug until the effects of it became apparent. Then the Open Source community started looking for it. That's what runs counter to the claim of "many eyes on the code makes security". Nobody was really looking and nobody noticed that some random cert could be reported as trusted for almost ten years. It's just a truth even I've advertised about Linux until I find the truth has been shattered.

Ignorance isn't blissful at all and this very thing is the weakness of closed code - not many eyes looking and things get fixed retroactively after the effects are revealed. However, Apple realizes the great majority of users don't know a thing about computers except they're appliances which need to work reliably. Apple knows they're not allowing the Dancing Pigs into the iOS spectrum and with that comes restrictions which will frustrate some people. They don't advertise anything different from that. So far, they've made 800 million iOS customers really happy at the expense of maybe 100,000 code monkeys.

My bigger problem with Android is who the mother ship is; Google, which has turned into a spy agency in their own right. They've brilliantly created a portable vehicle to map and catalog your every move and view. Their business model is to destroy your privacy and sell what they learn about you to marketers, the scum of the earth, without restraint or remorse. Apple, on the other hand, is well known to frustrate efforts by marketers to gain access to your private data. Frankly, I don't like computers or cars all that much and don't code or race anymore, but I have to use them. Since I have to use them, I'm going to use something I like a lot and not have to worry about too much.

Cheers.

Comment: Open Source? (Score 1) 193

by Divebus (#46416667) Attached to: F-Secure: Android Accounted For 97% of All Mobile Malware In 2013

Maybe I'm conflating several notions from your post, but I get the distinct feeling you liken Apple products as being in a cage. I can tell you it's more like being in Club Med with hot cocktail waitresses and sunny days with the chain link fence holding back hordes of lepers.

This entire decade, all I've heard was how fully vetted open source gave you freedom and security at the same time. Write all the code you want and run it everywhere. Safely. Freely.

The GnuTLS Library bug tells me it's all been BS. To that end, why should I trust any random developer's software, certificate or not? Isn't everyone in the open source community supposed to be looking at the code? Actually looking at it? You just can't trust anything these days.

Comment: Re:From the ashes into the fire? (Score 1) 253

by Divebus (#44539027) Attached to: Acer Pulls Back From Windows To Focus On Android and Chromebook

I would think that someone with such a low UID and [assumed] broad experience would have a little more insight, especially the "no one uses Macs for business". There are a lot of businesses that would chuckle about that, starting with one of the world's most profitable and valuable businesses (on and off).

You can add to that practically everyone in the entertainment media creation field, especially in LA. Forrester says almost half of enterprises with 1,000 or more employees are issuing Macs. Macs are the default choice of many Silicon Valley startups and larger companies like Google. Some CTOs even make fun of the last Windows holdouts for using a "typewriter".

I work for a giant media conglomerate which four years ago forbade Macs from entering the IT system, but after a great deal of upheaval from the top, IT has been told to shut up and deploy Macs, now present as some 30% of new machines. The greatest "ecosystem" Microsoft has are the IT admins who don't know of or won't examine anything else. Those days are ending.

The Mac is not "an obscure also ran" since more than half of new Mac users come from other platforms... well, one in particular. It's more of a refuge for the many millions of people who are sick to death of Windows. Just having Macs in my workplace side by side with Windows machines is driving many users to ditch their home PCs in favor of Macs (some of them Hackintoshes). None of them would even consider a Linux machine. The Mac is now what Linux wants to be.

Microsoft had become quite lazy under Ballmer. Anything a competitor did, Microsoft would release a half baked lookalike that generally really sucked in a number of ways. Microsoft's belief is that they would automatically prevail because the competition (usually Apple in this context) was an obscure also ran. After having their asses handed to them over and over, they're finally getting it.

The best thing I can say about Microsoft's foray into the tablet and advanced phone world is they're the only ones not blatantly copying Apple. That's turning out to be a mistake but I don't think they could have won if they had copied Apple. The tide has turned against Microsoft and once the legacy has worn off, they're done unless they come up with something totally new that nobody can live without.

Comment: Re:Not a replacement yet (Score 1) 340

Like every energy breakthrough in the past, someone decided the Big Oil companies would know how to handle and distribute it. Somehow, all those promising alternative energy sources never seemed to work out. BP axes solar power business, Transition from oil to renewable energy 100 years away, says Exxon Mobil and dozens more.

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