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My Apple appearance, and this week’s Newsweek column

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

This week I wrote my Technologist column about how Microsoft might make better use of the Zune’s Wi-Fi capabilities. The idea of “squirting” songs from one Zune to another isn’t bad, but the DRM terms of this exchange Microsoft negotiated with the record labels is way too restrictive. (The songs expire after three days or three plays, whichever comes first. What’s more, the DRM gets laid over the squirted songs even if they are unprotected to begin with.)

My suggestion to make immediate use of Wi-Fi for music devices? To expose music collections, the way iTunes does on computers. (You can look at someone else’s iTunes library via local area networks or the short-range wireless Bonjour technology built into Macs. Of course people have the option of turning this feature off.) Just imagine sitting on a subway or a classroom and scanning the libraries of nearby iPods. The column talks about it in terms of Zune, which beat iPod to the wireless realm.

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This is an idea that popped into my head a few weeks ago when I was talking about my book, of all places, at Apple Computer. Usually when I go to the Apple campus in Cupertino, I’m listening to them–this time I faced the intimidating prospect that they would be listening to me. What’s more I would be speaking in the same auditorium where Steve Jobs introduced the iPod almost five years to the day before my lunchtime appearance.

The turnout was great, and the Apple people were a wonderful audience. The q and a was also fantastic. More to the point, when someone asked me what I would like to see on the iPod next, that’s when I discussed the “naked music collection” idea. No one acknowledged that anything like that might be in the works, but I felt that the idea didn’t take anybody by surprise.

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