1. Akshay Masand's Avatar

    According to a former Apple engineer, Rod Schultz, who appeared in court on Friday as the final witness in an antitrust case involving the iPod and iTunes ecosystem, Apple was running an internal project which was meant to box out competing digital stores and media players. Schultz worked on FairPlay digital rights management from 2006 to 2007 including a project which was “intended to block 100% of non-iTunes clients” and “keep out third-party players” in competition with Apple’s iPod lineup. The program was reportedly codenamed “Candy,” but its standing in relation to Apple’s anti-competitive theme continues to remain unclear. Schultz ended up leaving Apple in 2008.

    As of right now, it is being assumed that Schultz’s remarks were referring to iTunes updates that disabled RealNetworks’ Harmony workaround for Apple’s FairPlay DRM which restricted playback of music purchased from the iTunes Music Store to iPods. RealNetworks introduced Harmony as a way for iPod owners to listen to songs purchased through the RealPlayer store. The plaintiffs’ lawyers also tried to enter into evidence a paper written by Schultz in 2012 which was titled “The Many Facades of DRM.” In the paper, he gives details not only on basic DRM implementation but its specific use by Apple as a way to lock customers with iTunes, iPod and FairPlay. The following was mentioned in the paper regarding the matter:

    Apple's DRM created this lock, and it became so successful that the music industry went with the lesser of two evils (songs locked to Apple's iPod monopoly vs. the distribution of DRMfree music) and chose to distribute DRMfree music.
    Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers denied Plaintiffs’ motion to admit. For its part, Apple said that the iTunes updates were a necessity for security reasons coupled with operational and visual improvements over prior iterations. The company went on to claim that they were not limited to breaking compatibility with third-party services. Schultz’s project were reportedly designed to protect the ecosystem from poor user experience which was something that Schultz agreed to during his testimony.

    With the testimony of the last witness complete, Judge Gonzalez Rogers plans to hand the case over for jury deliberations next week. We’ll have to see what happens then.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal

    Twitter: @AkshayMasand
    2014-12-13 08:11 PM