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Jan 7 2009   4:46PM GMT

Overheard – Apple chucks DRM but you’re still tied to their hardware

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse

“Downloads from iTunes are still in the AAC file format regardless of whether they are DRM-free. The AAC file format is only compatible with iPods/iPhones and a limited number of other devices. So consumers who buy downloads from iTunes are still restricted to where they can play that music regardless of whether it’s DRM free or not.”

Ben Drury as quoted in Apple iTunes tracks go DRM-free

I’m the only one in my family who doesn’t have an iPhone or iPod. I like having a radio on my MP3 player so I use a tiny player by Insignia.  If I want to download something from the iTunes store, I use a third-party tool to convert the file from AAC to MP3.

So when I heard yesterday that Apple was ditching DRM altogether, it caught my attention.  Would that make it easier for me to buy content from the iTunes store? Could I synch up my little Insignia player and not have to stop and covert file formats?

I think the answer right now is “no.”   Besides getting rid of the number of times an iPod or iPhone owner can copy something he’s purchased, I’m not seeing a whole lot of difference for those of us who use Insignia or some other brand of player.  We’ll still be shopping for MP3s at Amazon.

Update: I did find this on the Apple Web site…but it’s talking about CDs.

When you import unprotected WMA files or music from CDs, iTunes saves them as AAC files. Easily convert them to MP3 in a few clicks: Select the song you want converted, then choose “Create MP3 Version” from the Advanced menu.

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