ARS TECHNICA says that some people think that DRM is dying, but that Apple may be DRM’s best friend:
Apple stands to benefit greatly by keeping the FairPlay DRM system up and running. The lock-in afforded by FairPlay creates an Apple ecosystem that essentially ties the iPod to iTunes and to Apple, at least for commercial transactions. Someone has even launched an antitrust suit against Apple over this, though the suit’s specific claims are rather broad.
The symbiotic relationship between iTunes and the iPod has been so profitable for Apple that Microsoft has blatantly ripped it off for its new Zune music player. Apple has managed to create an ecosystem populated with high-margin devices; the company’s overall gross margins are nearly 30 percent, and so even if iTunes were used solely to drive sales of iPods, it would be worth it for Apple to run the store.
Apple has, in an important sense, become a digital gatekeeper for media companies; iTunes is the best way to reach consumers with music, movies, podcasts, and television. Content companies have paid close attention to the success of iTunes; they’ve seen how it saved The Office, pushed billions of dollars in revenue to Disney, and established itself as such a de facto standard on college campuses that students would rather use iTunes than free alternatives. The content companies now need Jobs & Co. as much as Apple needs them.
That’s good for Jobs, but I’m not sure I like it.