Greedy contempt for consumers’ choice in the protection of closed hardware is increasingly common. bq. On Thursday however Apple warned that it may also block access to iPod using Harmony the next time it updates the software used to run the device. “It is highly likely that Real’s Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods,” the company said in its terse statement. (“Financial Times”:http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1087374078987&p=1045050946495) Legal sanction for the closure of consumer hardware to modification by users or to the use of third party software mocks the only justification for the monopolies created by IP laws: to encourage the growth of innovation and to spread its benefits. Licensed by the mad breadth of copyright ‘anti-circumvention’ laws, firms that make consumer products seem to be falling over themselves to screw their own customers. An outstanding example: the apparent intention of Sony and NEC to close their devices even to batteries from third party vendors (see “this”:http://weatherall.blogspot.com/2004_07_01_weatherall_archive.html#108976389997567069 from Kim Weatherall). The stupidity of this policy of balkanizing demand is that it not only angers customers, it probably shrinks the whole market place.
Peter Gallagher is student of piano and photography. He was formerly a senior trade official of the Australian government. For some years after leaving government, he consulted to international organizations, governments and business groups on trade and public policy.
He teaches graduate classes at the University of Adelaide on trade research methods and the role of firms in trade and growth and tweets trade (and other) stuff from @pwgallagher