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Friday, 23 June 2006 14:14

Euro pirates still on collision course with Apple


New laws currently being enacted in France and under formulation in Scandinavian countries could force Apple Computer to close down its iTunes online stores in those countries. Originally France, as well as Norway, Sweden and Denmark had threatened to force Apple to open up its iTunes format to portable music players other than iPod. Now France has softened its stance but it still won't be enough to avert a collision course with the iconic technology company.

In its watered down stance, the French Government has allowed artists and record companies to give Apple permission to restrict downloads to iPods. It is not clear whether the Scandinavian companies will follow suit. However, regardless of whether they do or not, the slightly softer demand of France may not satisfy Apple. The new legislation would force the company into negotiations with recording labels and artists, creating a significant overhead for the company.

Apple's threat to close down its European iTunes sites rather than open up its downloads to players other than iPod is not an idle one. The iPod and not iTunes is where Apple makes its money. Opening up iTunes to the wider MP3 player market could significantly affect its iPod sales. Given that iPod has been largely responsible for the company's turnaround in recent years, it is not likely to agree to anything that could jeopardise iPod sales.

As far as Europe is concerned, the ill-considered and patronising stance taken by some governments in the name of open standards is not likely to be popular with many consumers who are avid iPod fans. There are other sites that consumers can visit where they can legally download generic MP3 files, so it's hard to see the logic in restricting the growth of a company that has won its business in fair competition.

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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