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Compatibility Fight Looms Between EMI And Apple

Just when you'd thought you'd heard enough about copy-protection and DRM, EMI and Apple/iTunes Itunes_10 seem ready to do battle.  EMI chief Alain Levy reportedly recently predicted that Apple would eventually embrace variable at its iTunes Music Store, even though Apple has not indicated that it will never happen.

The tension is also growing between the companies because EMI apparently has a compatibility agreement with Apple involving its Macrovision-based copy-protected disc that may have been a condition of it's original agreement to license music to iTunes. "Apple is nearly finished with the technical work necessary to enable consumers to transfer music from content-protected discs to their iPods," an EMI statement published in C|Net declared. Apple however shot back that "we have no idea why EMI made this statement".

EMI then told Digital Music News that the company was "testing a tweak in the system that will get Ipodgirl_9 the songs onto the iPod".  One can only guess that this means that EMI's plan would now resemble an earlier workaround by RealNetworks, which first revealed its "Harmony Technology" project in July of 2004.

It is only a matter of time before consumers rebel against companies that put up compatibility ; and variable pricing is inevitable as well as fair to consumers as well.  Apple could choose to be a leader on these issues, but it appears that this is not the Jobs way.  For all of his brilliance Jobs almost marginalized Apple computers with these kinds of policies and iTunes and the iPod may not be far behind if he continues.  It seems hard to imagine that happening when Apple is dominating the music market with well designed and excecuted music products, but we all can remember 8-Tracks, cassettes and Beta-max. A new and better mousetrap is almost always just around the corner.