Saturday, January 09, 2010

How removing my car stereo gave me my Apple iSlate prediction

[Update: iPad is the name. My post-release verdict is even more flamboyant.]

Geeks are all tingly in the run up to Steve Jobs' iSlate/iPad/whatever announcement. The last time I remember this level of geek thrill was just before the Segway was announced.

Oh, you don't remember that? Well, it wasn't the Segue of a thousand jokes back then. It was a mysterious product that was going to transform the world. (Who knows, when gas is $12/gallon maybe it will.)

The Segway is a cautionary tale, but I'm rooting for Mr Jobs. Even his mistakes are interesting, and if anyone can make a slate exciting it's the man in the black shirt. Personally I'm much more interested in the $150 Chrome OS gBook, but I'll be tracking the fan sites nonetheless. I expect the slate to solve at least one problem I have, and to solve it in a way that will work for my iPhone and desktop too.

I expect Mr. Jobs to come up with a Digital Rights Management scheme for books that we can live with -- just as he (and his team) have done for video and apps. (BTW, do you think anyone notices that balanced DRM is the key to Apple's App Store windfall? The industry hasn't missed this, even though the media has.)

I want Apple to do this, because this morning I couldn't figure out how to get my ultra-geeky SONY car stereo out of my dying 1997 Subaru Legacy (we bought the Forester, not the whacked new Outback). I knew Crutchfield would have great directions, but they charge $10 for detailed directions unless you're buying a stereo -- and they US Mail them.

The price was a bit steep, but the real problem for me was US Mail. They do this, of course, because if they let users download a PDF they'd sell one copy of the directions.

What Crutchfield and I needed was a DRM approach that was a reasonable balance between their interests and mine. If they had that, they might sell the directions electronically for a more appealing $5.

That's my iSlate prediction. That Jobs/Apple will include a DRM solution for printed material that will, like their DRM for Apps, be a reasonable balance between the rights of publishers and the interests of consumers.
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