Eddy Cue: iTunes DRM made Apple a success where Microsoft had failed

In the iTunes class-action suit filed against Apple, software head Eddy Cue defended his company's use of DRM stating that it was the best strategy to making the iPod a success where rivals, like Microsoft, failed. Cue said that Apple had explored the possibility of opening up its FairPlay DRM for competitors to use from the beginning, but it was obligated to protect against hacks by its deals with the record labels. Lawyers for Apple used Cue's testimony in court to paint a picture of the company as pro-consumer, but one whose success was tied to its relationships with a guarded music industry.

Plaintiff lawyers accused Apple of repeatedly trying to patch iTunes to block out music obtained from an iTunes-rival service. Cue defended Apple's actions citing its complex contractual relationship with the music industry, according to reporting from CNET:

"Steve was mighty upset with me and the team whenever we got hacked," Cue, testifying in a class action lawsuit against Apple, said Thursday in reference to former CEO Steve Jobs, who died in 2011. "If a hack happened, we had to remedy that hack within a certain time period or they [the record labels] would remove all their music from the store."

On making an inter-operable DRM standard and opening up its closed ecosystem, Cue used the competition as an example:

"All these other guys that tried the approach of trying to be open failed because it broke," he said. "There's no way for us to have done that and have the success that we had."

"No, we thought about licensing the DRM from the beginning," Cue said. "It was one of the things that we thought was the right move and we can expand the market and grow faster. We couldn't find a way to do that and make it work reliable."

"Microsoft failed miserably when it tried to do this," Cue added. "They tried to build a DRM they could license. It would sometimes work and sometimes it didn't."

RealNetworks executives also complained that iTunes updates were used to block songs purchased from the Harmony store.

"It was blocked because Harmony was reverse-engineered and guess what, when a new version [of iTunes] came out it didn't work," Cue said on iTunes 7.0

He also said that there were viable, recognized workarounds to get non-iTunes music into your iPod:

"You could take the songs you bought in another store," Cue said, "and burn them onto a CD and then rip them back into any device or music player you wanted."

Source: CNET