Consumer, Apple, and Music Services Win…SanDisk, good luck

This week has been a great for digital consumers.  First Apple and EMI announce that DRM free music from EMI will now be available on iTunes.  You can play anything (from EMI for now) on any device, not just your iPod. Then Yahoo! and SanDisk announce a wifi device connected to Yahoo! Music. So now we can get the music we want, when we want, and play it on what we want! This was indeed a landmark week.

Apple-EMI: DRM is Dead

This is a giant step towards a free digital world.  I can’t wait for the day I can download everything and anything I want and play it on anything I want, not be told what I can play where. Apple and EMI have taken the first step. It’s a huge step but not a big surprise.

The end of DRM has been forseen for sometime.  There is no way a model where consumers are restricted can survive these days. If the big guys didn’t set the digital world free, upstart technology would have. What is interesting is the consequence of this move for all players in the digital world. Reuters has a great write-up on the winners, losers, and those on the fence that is worth checking out.

 Apple is clearly a winner, but perhaps they didn’t go DRM-free out of the goodness of their heart.  An excerpt from the article:

“The right thing for the customer going forward is to tear down the walls that preclude interoperability by going DRM-free,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs says. It also avoids having to license its FairPlay DRM to rival technology companies, something it was loathe to do. As a bonus, a move to higher-quality audio files will drive the need for iPods with greater storage capacities (at likely higher price tags). And the company benefits from timing its announcement to overshadow word of an European antitrust probe into iTunes pricing.

Yahoo! – SanDisk

The news was good but the timing was bad.  Just happened to be the same time Apple-EMI made thier announcement and also when Apple announced the sale of the 100 millionth iPod.  But again, the news was good.

For the first time, users of a music service (Yahoo!) can connect anytime and anywhere to get the music they want using Sansa Connect. No more docking, no more syncing, just connect, download and enjoy. Even better, it adds a little competition to Apple. 

100 milion iPods is a lot. But if there is one thing that will have consumers seriously thinking about switching, it’s the ability to go wireless. So, it means either iPods become more affordable to compete or, and 95% more likey, we finally get iPod wifi!

The news is great for Yahoo! greater for Apple, and amazing for the rest of us.  Unfortunately, it might not end up so good for SanDisk. 

Here’s how I see things playing out:

1. iTunes go DRM free so now they can be played on any device

2. iPod wifi hits the market

3. Apple signs deals with Yahoo!, Microsoft, and every other music provider

4. People can download from iTunes or any service they’ve subscribed to and get their music anytime, anywhere.

The 800-pound gets together with the other gorillas and they stomp on….until the next great disruption of the wild and crazy digital world.