German, French, Norwegian and Finnish consumer groups have joined forces to challenge Apple to open up its DRM. What does this suggest? That individual consumer groups have found themselves incapable of standing up on their own to the might of Apple. Will it make any difference? I doubt it. Apple is unlikely to change it’s entire DRM strategy in response. They will however probably make some positive noises and offer some concessions on less key issues, for example contractual terms.
The action may, though, have longer term, further reaching impact in that it will contribute to the larger groundswell of opinion that will force DRM interoperability back onto the legislative agenda for the EU and for national governments.
On a related note, there is talk of the majors seriously considering naked mp3. I’m highly sceptical that this will happen across the majors’ catalogue. They may well implement it for some archive, and also in promotions of some key artists, but they’re not about to walk away from DRM just yet. We’ve just finished a major survey of European music executives and the preliminary results suggest modest appetite for naked mp3, only a small majority would prefer naked MP3 to non-interoperable DRM.