A correspondent named Joshua forwarded me this link to a discussion about Microsoft asking Apple to “open the iPod”. The most striking thing about this discussion is that most of the people really have no idea what they are talking about, and don’t understand what open and closed mean (I mean, it is a forum of Windows users …) They seem to think that because the iPod doesn’t support WMA with Microsoft DRM, it is closed. If the only way you could get music on an iPod was to buy it from the Apple music store, that would be a closed platform. This is the nonsense Gemstar pulled with the Rocket eBook which completely killed the business – that was a closed platform. When you can load up an iPod with your own music in the (at present) most popular compressed audio format in the world, it isn’t closed. That’s it.
Open does not mean “supports all audio formats”, it means “able to put things on there not purchased from Apple”. You can do that. The fact that Real or Microsoft can’t sell music in their proprietary format with their proprietary DRM on it and have it work on an iPod doesn’t make it closed. Should that support be there, it wouldn’t make the iPod any more “open”, it would just have broader support for proprietary formats. Microsoft or Real want to be on the iPod, let them sell music without DRM, ala Magnatune. Otherwise, let them come up with their own device and own store and own user experience. If they think it is so fricking easy to make one that will explode at the same rate as the iPod, then they should just do it, compete in this game and win.