Putting All Your Apples in One Basket

I am sure many of you had heard of the saying or advise, “don’t put all your apples in one basket”. Meaning you should not focus all your efforts with one idea or a single solution.

As for applying this principal to software and technology, I had been advising friends and clients for as long as I can remember; at least 19 years.

I often advise my clients, “Today’s leader may be tomorrow’s looser”. Most recently Microsoft proved this statement with the simple release of Zune MP3 player and the Zune’s Marketplace.

I am not referring to Apple being the Leader here, since Microsoft’s current Zune products are definitely not a serious challenge to Apple’s iPod, iTunes and iTunes Store. Instead, what I am talking about is Microsoft’s “Play for sure” program.

I am also not suggesting that Microsoft’s “Play for sure” were ever a leader but in terms of DRM there are limited choices, with Apple’s FairPlay and Microsoft’s DRM being the two most used, with the Microsoft’s DRM being the only one used by other vendors other than the DRM owners themselves.

Many organizations including, libraries, MP3 player manufactures and online music stores, unwisely chose to use Microsoft technology and subscribe to Microsoft’s “Play for sure” program. Now, Microsoft has abandon its own “Play for sure” program with the release of Zune, and even gone as far as closing down its own MSN music store. The new Zune MP3 player is not even compatible with Microsoft’s Windows Media Player and Microsoft Windows Vista. So, now MP3 player manufactures and online store operators, except Apple, are left with no support and no future DRM technology to support.

The parties affected the most are the libraries who encoded their Audiobooks with Microsoft technology and DRM. Now with the future of Microsoft’s DRM and “Play for sure” program in limbo, these organizations now have to decide whether to continue encoding using Microsoft technology or to change to an open format (industry standard) and reencode everything they have.

I am definitely not in favor of DRM of any kind for any content. I believe the use of DRM is assuming all people are dishonest. No different from taking the approach of “assuming someone is guilty until proven innocent”. I think it is just wrong.

Again, I openly advise all, you should never put all your apples in one basket. In the case of technology, never bet on proprietary technology for the long term strategy.

Another free advise, popularity does not equal Standards. Standards are set by independent organizations. In the case of the web, ecommerce and technologies W3C, OASIS and IEEE are three of the Standards body. By the way, Microsoft is a member of the former two organizations, but their products are the ones that fail to comply with the Standards the most.

You may ask what is a safe bet? Well… you will need to either interpret the above or hire me to consult for your organization.

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