Vive la France!
The French Parliament recently passed a new (and long overdue) law that requires digital content bought at any online store to be playable on any hardware. In plain English, this means that iPods must be able to play music bought from online stores other than iTunes. The French have it right, and the U.S. would be wise to follow its lead.
Read the full story here in this great article from Wired Magazine.
Why does this matter? Think of it this way. Imagine if 60 years ago when television was first entering the mainstream, that the TV networks like NBC decided that all TV programming could only be watched on NBC-manufactured televisions. That would have killed any idea of competition - not only in the TV manufacturing market, but also in television programming. Does anyone need to be reminded of how monopolies hurt business competition, consumer interests, innovation, and capitalism in general?
Apple has been trying to create a monopoly, not only in the market for portable music players with Ipods, but also in the market for digital media sales with iTunes. I wonder how Apple would react if suddenly Microsoft decided to not allow software from other companies to be compatible on Windows computers? Oh wait...
Bottom line - Americans would be far better off if we had the choice of where to buy our music, and also what devices we wanted to listen to them on. Apple, by bundling iTunes and iPods, is severely restricting that choice.