I’ll open by saying that despite switching to a Mac recently (because the Sony Vaio SZ-VGN460N is a terrible, terrible laptop) I’m not completely drinking the Steve Jobs Kool-Aid. I don’t like iTunes, and I don’t understand how more people aren’t crying foul at the Apple monopoly that is the iPod + iTunes music store. If it were any company other than Apple, the phrase monopoly would get used a heck of a lot more often. But, as a good friend of mine likes to say “the rules of physics do not apply to Steve Jobs.” He’s right.
So I like the Amazon MP3 store because it is open, not closed. Open content is good for consumers, period. You choose the software player on your computer, as opposed to it choosing for you. You choose the gadget to play it on, whether its your MP3 player or your cell phone. You burn it to your own custom mix CD, or you just listen to it on your PC.
Regardless of how much the current players (RIAA, music labels, Apple, etc) like or dislike this flexibility, this has been the de facto standard for music since the dawn of the cassette deck in the 70s. Let me repeat this, because it’s important: if you are 60 years old or younger, you were brought up in a world where purchasing music gave you rights to consume where, when, and how you chose.
My how this world has changed, and all thanks to the Internet, and for the worse. As consumers our rights are diminishing rapidly, all under the banner threat of “illegal downloading”. In fact the punitive damages surrounding “illegal downloading” are so severe you’d think Al Qaeda invented Napster and BitTorrent.
If I’ve piqued your curiosity, if any of this rings true and you want to learn more about how much the media industry has spent bribing congress to take away your rights, please pick up a copy of Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture. If you are familiar with it, and want to use the most effective weapon you have (aka your checkbook), go buy a few MP3s from Amazon (and read this too). Showing monetary support for an open initiative is important. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but definitely in the long term.