As Time Goes By, I Feel As If Customers Are Being Criminalized

Smartphone Evolution

Smartphone Evolution (Photo credit: Phil Roeder)

So, which smart phone are you going to buy next?  I can totally see that this is like a hello kind of greeting for people nowadays, but of course don’t take it literally OK?  Anyhow, iPhone 5 is about to come out, and I mean really about to as it seems that Apple will release iPhone 5 late this month.  Today, Apple reveals iPhone 5 to the world.  In a way, iPhone 5 event is a big thing for Apple fans.  Very big indeed!  Nonetheless, smart phone competition is already in the overdrive mode, therefore haters also come out in droves to point out that iPhone 5 isn’t that impressive.  Personally, I care little for a specific smart phone!  This means iPhone, Android, or whatever smart phone will only be on my radar if it appeals to me at a specific point in time.

Some of you may not be able to think like I do in regarding to worship a God of a specific smart phone according to one’s mood.  How come?  Some of you’re buying into an electronic ecosystem and platform when buying, upgrading, or switching (i.e., to a different brand) a smart phone.  For an example, let say Mr. Eat Donuts On Mars bought a smart phone from a well known smart phone brand Blah (fake company I made up so to not be bias or against a specific brand of smart phone) few years back, and now he wants to upgrade to a new smart phone.  Unfortunately for Mr. Eat Donuts On Mars, he feels ill about upgrading his smart phone with the same brand as before.  Still, Mr. Eat Donuts On Mars has no choice but to upgrade to a new smart phone with the same brand as before, because he had bought too many digital contents such as 2000 MP3 tracks (with DRM protection) with the brand of the smart phone he wants to do away with.  The moral of the example of Mr. Eat Donuts On Mars is that if you’re heavily invested in digital contents of a particular electronic brand, it’s very hard to move away from such a brand when digital contents are being protected by DRM (Digital Right Management) and anti-customer practices/regulations.

I’m totally for buying digital contents legally, because I believe that the artists and whoever else in the digital media business need to make their living just like you and I do.  Nonetheless, I’m against digital contents to be treated like digital contents of today.  I think there must be a way to allow the owner (i.e., the customers) of the digital contents to be able to transfer the digital contents from one electronic ecosystem/platform to another.  Also, the owner of whatever digital contents should be able to share their digital contents with whoever he or she wants once the purchases had been completed.  Of course, there must be temperament in everything.  This is why I think there should also be a regulation(s) to make a set up of massive scale of distributing digital media/contents — in the purpose of destroying the digital business of a company — illegal.  This way, common sense can use a specific regulation to punish whoever tries to massively distributing digital media/contents for malicious purposes such as to steal business profits from the true business source (i.e., content creators and legitimate distributors).  I guess, I’m trying to promote the idea that once you buy something, whether it’s digital or not, such something must be owned outright.  With that being said, I know digital media/contents — all — is a very different beast from other types of products.  After all, anyone can totally redistribute and remarket the same digital media/contents without any overheading cost, to a point as if outright stealing the sweats of the content creators and legitimate distributors.

It’s truly very hard to have your cake and eat it too if we try to come up a perfect solution for dealing with digital media/contents, in regarding to piracy matter.  Nonetheless, I think customers should be treated like customers and not like criminals.  This is why we need to be both soft and hard toward the idea of sharing digital media/contents.  This is why DRM is too rigid for actually making sense in term of treating customers as customers.  Customers can only truly feel that they’re not criminals when they can share their digital contents in common sense way.  I propose that the customers should be able to share their digital contents without being criminalized.  Nonetheless, as I had said earlier, customers or not, when trying to distribute their purchased digital media/contents in malicious methodologies — massively distributing digital media/contents through a server or P2P software or whatever for the purpose of monetizing, destroying the business of the content creators, or whatever other malicious purpose — cannot go unpunished.  I truly think common sense has to be the way when we’re dealing with digital media/contents.

With all sorts of DRM protection(s) in place and criminalized dictations of the usage of whatever digital media/contents, I often avoid the purchasing of digital media/contents (such as MP3 tracks) outright.  This is why I have been a loyal customer to Spotify.  I only subscribe to Spotify and not really buy any music, because a premium service from Spotify allows me to play all songs within Spotify’s music archives at anytime.  Of course, if I ever decide to not pay Spotify a relatively cheap monthly fee, all of my playlists and music access will go poof (i.e., disappearing).  With that in mind, I still prefer Spotify or similar service(s) for digital media/contents over purchasing digital media/contents outright.  In the end, I think I prefer to feel like I actually own something when I purchase something; if this isn’t the case, I should not be bothered with buying something outright and just go for a subscription service(s).

So, you see, when you’re purchasing a new smart phone, it does mean a lot in term of what to do.  Most often, you might have to ask yourself, can I really upgrade to a different brand of smart phone?  If a smart phone user is heavily invested in digital media contents, the case is usually a very sad one.  He or she must have feel frustrating as he or she may not be able to actually, fully transfer all of their digital media/contents from one smart phone to another since both old and new smart phones are not of the same brand.  Obviously, this isn’t always the case.  How come?  If two different brands of smart phones are using the same software ecosystem (i.e., same operating system), the chance of being able to transfer digital contents from one smart phone brand to another is very high (i.e., almost 100% or 100% chance to be able to transfer the digital media/contents). Still, there might be an outlier even in this very case.

In a nutshell, it’s not simple for customers to switch their phones like they switch their shirts.  I think the smart phone business and other electronic types of business can totally be more profitable and highly regard if they simplify the process of switching electronic devices/platforms.  Of course, you can argue that — this is insane — as it’s most likely that an electronic brand should do everything to keep their customers’ brand loyalty, even it has to come down to locking their customers in an electronic ecosystem.  I beg otherwise.  I think customers should not be taken hostage to any electronic ecosystem or platform.  DRM and similar methodologies can totally be used to lock the customers into a specific electronic ecosystems/platforms.

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