(Originally published at http://morison.biz/technotes/articles/24 on Sep. 1, 2007)
I believe the Washington Post article by Rob Pegoraro on Steve Jobs' Thoughts on Music is missing the nub of Jobs motivation here: Jobs is afraid that the "few weeks to repair DRM breeches" clause of his online music deals will lead the label to pull his contract and force him to rip out a major catalog and/or a DRM fix will break his product.
Jobs is absolutely correct in asserting that coordinating a DRM change between webstore, computers and handhelds is a tricky business: Keep in mind that the entire catalog might need to be re-fingerprinted and there is a very real potential for leaving millions of users with unplayable players if any mistakes are made.
I'm sure Apple sees that latter possibility as a very large business risk to both ipod and itunes store revenue.
A no brainer fix to that business risk? No DRM. Poof, risk gone. Yes, theres some upside possibilities, but Jobs letter is about risk managment, first and foremost.
I'm not saying his position is right or wrong, that's much more complicated. But, he's doing his job as Apple CEO.