Stross (who also wrote a fine item in 2005 about why Sony didn't build the iPod) has some basic points: DRM bad; iTunes Store has DRM; look at Plays for Sure and all the Microsoft customers that got rogered; iPhone bad; eMusic and other unencumbered music sales online, good.
While I have no real love for FairPlay, and I do worry that my iTunes purchases might not survive future device changes, I couldn't quite put my finger on the core bogosity of his thesis. As is often the case in the Mac-blogosphere, John Gruber got his opinion out of his brain with more speed and pith than I could muster:
You can "pledge a lifetime commitment to the iPod" and never once come into contact with a FairPlay-protected song or video. If you don't like FairPlay's restrictions - and there are plenty of good reasons not to - then don't buy any, and rip your music from regular CDs.
iTunes Store music and video locks you in. iPods and iPhones do not.
More after the break...
Stross goes on at great length about the lock-in factor of the iTMS and the benefits of eMusic's pure-MP3 sales approach, without ever mentioning the obvious: iPods play MP3s, and eMusic supports iPods -- there's even an iPod on the eMusic home page, for crying out loud. You can already buy DRM-free music for your iPod, so the question shouldn't be "Why FairPlay?" but "Why aren't more iPod owners doing this?"
Stross carefully mentions Nettwerk label head Terry McBride's theory that major labels will drop DRM for song purchases to allow iPod owners to shop at online music stores besides iTunes, but never acknowledges the elephant in the room: eMusic already does that for the indie labels. To clarify that point -- after already highlighting the dramatically 2nd-place status of eMusic's 100 million song sales to iTunes 2 billion -- would blow his argument down. I won't even go into the issue of all the DRM-free content that the iTMS relays to iPods, in the form of podcasts.