Choosing Sides with DRM

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-04-19 Print this article Print

?"> Youve indicated that you would look for a unification of Microsofts and Suns DRM strategies. Is that what you really mean?
I firmly believe that identity is the cornerstone of all network services. You cant expect to build a network service unless you know to whom youre delivering it and what they have access to.
The focus on identity is really a focus on a core area of our business where, through our Java Enterprise System and the directory and identity technologies that we have built to run that, we currently have market-leading products. The acquisition of Waveset [Technologies] last year has really put us at the front of the marketplace for provisioning systems. So, its a natural extension in the market: how identity services may or may not necessarily [play] into services and service access but into content types, into the DRM standards through Microsoft Office—wanting to ensure we have interoperability in StarOffice, ensuring that the DRM that is flowing through Windows Media we can make available through the media technologies that we will be delivering. There are those who say Apples DRM strategy is less onerous and provides an alternative to the Microsoft strategy. There will be a diversity of DRM solutions in the marketplace. There will be no one size fits all. Any illusion that either Sony or Philips or Microsoft or Apple or anyone else is going to have the keys to the kingdom through DRM is fundamentally naive. But all that said, if you look at the market for music downloaded on mobile handsets, you measure it in the billions of dollars. If you look at the market for music downloaded on desktop computers, its measured comparatively in pennies. Now, why is that? Its principally because the mobile carriers have a much stronger grasp of identity in the infrastructure necessary to monetize content. Independent of their DRM solution, theyve made it convenient and theyve made it authenticated—those are really the keys to monetizing content—as opposed to perhaps a more accepted focus on the specifics of the technology within the content. Next page: Visual Studio meets Java Studio.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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