Robert X. Cringely says that what Microsoft is doing with the Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology in Vista is help the media companies reselling us stuff we already have. He talks about how the media companies have been successful at this once already: when we bought CDs to replace our vinyl records, and when we bought DVDs to replace our video tapes.
Then he goes on to saying that all the new Vista DRM technology will form the basis for selling us the same stuff once more, but this time protected from piracy.
I would add the following: The original “re-sell” happened to work because we saw value in going from analog to digital. No more worrying about scratches on the records and deteriorating magnetic tapes. We got better sound and picture quality to boot. Deep down though, I think, we wanted to make sure that we got content that would survive “forever” and be ours “forever”. Well, the transition to digital accomplished that.
So what can possibly drive this next wave of reselling us the same stuff? High-definition digital video (I think Robert Scoble said something like this a while back too). It’s the last chance the studios have to resell us the same stuff once more. And this time they want to get it right: no piracy, hence all the DRM technology.
I can’t wait for the mass market to wake up and find out how buggy, error-prone and restrictive the whole high-definition-with-DRM thing will be. It may not happen until it’s too late. I’m almost hoping that things will be so bad that everyone will just say “I don’t need to own those stinkin’ movies or the expensive equipment to play them. I’ll just invite some friends over and we’ll make music together or tell stories”.
Nothing beats the high-definition of your imagination.
And maybe we should worry less about “owning” hollywood-generated content. Maybe we should focus more on generating our own.