Concern over headphone based DRM on the iPhone 7

To paraphrase Han Solo, “I’m away for awhile and everybody gets delusions of grandeur.”

Apple just announced a new iPhone, and instead of being excited, I’m kind of worried. By removing the old fashioned headphone jack in the new iPhone 7 and making all audio go through their DRM enabled lightning jack, Apple has placed a HUGE hardware audio lock on all consumers.

Putting it in a really simple way, standard headphone jacks don’t have a guard at the exit door. Any sound can come out. Lightning jacks on the iPhone 7 DO have a guard at the door who can decide what sounds get to leave and what sounds can’t. The new guard may not let some sounds out unless there’s a specific ride waiting for them.

As for the sounds themselves, if the sound has to call home every time it wants to exit and play, if their home doesn’t answer or if their home says “you’re not supposed to be there”, the guard won’t let them out. 

Sounds that play already should be ok, but with this new guard at the door, more “homes” concerned with making money and keeping their sounds safe might demand calls home all the time. 

There’s no legal way to circumvent the guard, and since the guard is part of the hardware, he’s not going to move without a major undertaking.

This is a huge loss of consumer control. Apple can now lock out headphones, speakers and even audio formats if they haven’t paid the appropriate bribe to Apple in advance.

Did I say bribe? I meant licensing fee.

The really sad thing is that since Apple has set this as their new normal and Apple fans typically buy new iPhones in record numbers, other phone manufacturers will pick up on this new source of income and run with it.

This just might wind up in a class action lawsuit in a few years.

In other news, my world has changed for tremendously better, and this blog might maybe spin slightly in a new direction. It’s all good, though. Happiness is infectious!

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