Yet another David is loading a stone into their slingshot to try to and take down Goliath. Navio, an American start-up, is reverse-engineering Apple’s FairPlay DRM system to find a way that companies can support it without first licensing it. That would mean that Napster, Yahoo! Music or any other online music retailer could sell iPod friendly songs. That would widen their markets and provide a real challenge for iTunes.
This is a legal approach, but not a popular one in the eyes of Apple. It’s also not the first time it has been tried. RealNetworks created Harmony, an app to convert their Helix DRM to a FairPlay compatible format. Apple responded by making a change to their DRM. Real responded with another change and Real subscribers now have iPod usability. iTunes doesn’t seem to have suffered too much, though, as sales keep growing.
It will be a while before we see this technology in use, if we ever do. First Navio has to get it right, then they have to convince people to use the technology. In the meantime, Apple could just come up with another way to foil their efforts.