The issue of DRM has been raised again in recent weeks when Apple "broke" a popular utility that allowed users to
bypass the DRM built into the iPod and allowed copying from the iPod to a PC. Consumers, the argument goes, are against
any DRM for their media and will not buy protected music.
JupiterResearch has done a lot of work in this area and contrary to the conventional wisdom, consumers are willing to pay for digital music, as our research indicates. Consumers value the portability and flexibility to which they have grown accustomed with conventional CDs and the MP3 file format but fifty-five percent of users also said they would pay $9.99 for a CD they could copy to multiple devices. This number is in contrast to only 23 percent of users who would pay the same price for the same album they could not copy. For single downloads, only 17 percent who would purchase a song for $0.99 they could not copy. By contrast 47 percent of consumers would pay $0.99 per song they could download to their PCs and copy to multiple devices.
The message is clear. Consumers will live with DRM and in fact will pay for content. The key is the flexibility of the DRM and keeping allowing users the portability they desire. It's not an either/or issue and there's no reason DRM can't live together with what users want.
Michael Gartenberg is vice president and research director for the Personal Technology & Access and Custom Research groups at Jupiter Research in New York. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His weblog and RSS feed are at http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/gartenberg.