Rethink is a London based market research and consulting firm whose publications I've been reading for a while. In a word: smart.
Their article, "Will Adobe drive the biggest deployment of DRM clients in history?" is one of the few must read pieces I've seen in some time.
They suggest that DRM has helped substantially increase the value of Apple.
Instead [of Microsoft] it has been Apple that has built a multibillion dollar empire based on a locked DRM. The value of Apple when the company launched its iTunes Store was around $10 billion, whereas today, due almost entirely due to the lock in that the iPod’s Fairplay DRM gives Apple, the company is valued at well over $160 billion. It’s a real testament to the power of DRM.
We’re not saying that just anyone can use DRM to liven up its share price, but an original product with consumer appeal, launched with a DRM lock in can, in the right hands create $100 billion of wealth.
Well, maybe. We'll have to to wait a few quarters to see what free music does to Apple's bottom line. Since Apple continues to have both mindshare and marketshare, the answer may be that having established a dominant position, untying the music from the player won't matter. Game over.
More interesting is the main focus of the Rethink article on Adobe and on advertising-based business models:
“There is only so much you can do with content protection, because someone can always point a camera at the screen, play the video, and make a copy, but we try never to let anything be “seen” by the operating software, and keep it all hidden inside the player, to make it as tough to break as possible....”
The same protection goes for other types of advertising including overlay adverts and the banners that sit directly above the video playing area on the screen. Banners, like overlays can be timed to play at a particular moment in the video, change at certain intervals and repeat. The aim is that trying to stop them means that the video stops playing. Also the viewer can be customized by the content owner using the brands of any sponsor, or their own brand. At present this is all handcrafted by the content owner when he sets his business model and revenue rules, “We do not yet have a GUI for creative people to manage this,” admits Landwehr, “but of course it will come.”