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June 30, 2006

you can never be too thin or too rich but you can be too successful

French Senate and National Assembly members today closed a gaping loophole in French law that had allowed some companies the freedom to decide what products to offer to consumers. Such an untenable situation could not be allowed to endure and so French lawmakers passed legislation that would require Apple to make its iPod player and iTunes store compatible with competitor’s offerings.

Currently, music purchased from Apple’s iTunes can only be played on Apple’s iPod. Where does that leave French consumers? Helpless, their only option being to not purchase an iPod or use iTunes. Or maybe looking into Sony’s competing proprietary player and format. And a number of WMA-compatible services like Rhapsody and Napster. And homegrown solutions such as Fnac. Or just purchase CDs (as the vast majority of people still do) and rip MP3s to any portable music player.

But other than that, nada. 

The situation hits a little close to home for those of us here at Planet Moron. Prior to the French move, we had been under the misconception that our decision last year to forgo the Apple iPod and instead opt for the slightly more cross-platform friendly Napster service had been a “choice.” We now realize that this was merely an illusion created by the vast array of alternative players, services, formats and plans available.

Talk about feeling taken!

Those who are sympathetic to the legislation point out that Apple has 80% of the market. You might think that this merely affirms that Apple is offering a product and service that consumers find both attractive and a reasonable value having carefully weighed all the pros and cons.

That is why you never achieved high elective office in France. Also, you don’t speak French, are not a citizen, never ran and get France confused with Spain every time you look at a map of Europe.

Or Asia. Whatever.

As French National Assembly Deputy Christian Vanneste pointed out, “Apple will need to change the way they do business in France. Apple's business philosophy runs counter to the philosophy of this law and the direction of technology." How does Mr. Vanneste know the direction of technology better than the people who created it? Didn’t we just say he was a deputy in the National Assembly? Try to pay attention here.

While it is unlikely that such forward thinking will “leap the pond” and take hold here in America, there is hope as a California judge (no really, California) is allowing a suit to go forward that charges Apple with monopolization which just goes to show that in America you are always encouraged to do your best.

As long as it isn’t too best.


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June 30, 2006 at 05:11 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Remember that revolutionary thing that shook the music world a few decades ago, rock and roll? As of 1990 the French had (and may still have, I've just recovered from France since then), a Minister of Rock and Roll. It wasn't a full cabinet position, it was under the ministry of culture, but the guy's name was Lionel Rotcage and you could probably google it.

Any country that can issue white papers on rock and roll can dictate digital music platforms.

Posted by: Michael | Jun 30, 2006 6:26:23 PM

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