Anyone reading The Perfect Thing (available in paperback!) knows that the Queen of England already has an iPod. Now she has another one, presented to her by our own President Obama. After taking some heat for shortchanging the British PM on his earlier visit to America–a box set of movie DVDs–Obama took pains to give the monarch America’s best, an iPod. It’s not clear yet which one, but some are saying it’s a 32-gig Touch. We do know it was loaded with show tunes, as well as some videos from a 2007 visit she made to America.
Hold on here. When the Queen plugs the new Pod into the Royal Computer, she will get a message asking her if she wants it to synch to the existing library–thus wiping the pictures and the music from the gift. Remember iPods are one-way, as a sop to the music companies, who didn’t want parties where people would swap iPods and download their libraries to each other’s computers. But it also makes things complicated if you want to pre-load an iPod, even with new, legal music, and give it to someone. Her Highness will certainly want to merge the new content with her current iTunes, but trying this stunt puts her in a world of pain. Will she have to beg Obama’s CTO to send the original CDs so she can re-rip them? Will she have to start trolling the Web for one of those grey-zone programs that move stuff from your iPod to the iTunes library?
Ironically, this attempt to clear the embarrassment of undergifting from the earlier incident winds up repeating it. Because both are DRM faux pas. The 25 American movies that Obama gave Gordon Brown don’t work in England, because of the practice of encoding disks with hostile-ware that lets them play only on hardware in specific regions of the globe, to preserve unbalanced pricing schemes. Brown couldn’t play the DVDs. And now the British monarch is discovering that even a Queen must bow to the restrictions of the entertainment industry.