An iTunes Phone Without FOTA: Bad News for Apple
Date: Wednesday, October 05 @ 02:48:29 MDT
Topic: Sprint PCS
Find out how Apple's oversight could put iTunes business model at risk.
Let's paint a scenario. Let's assume for the moment that Apple had to give Motorola critical information about FairPlay DRM. Lets assume that like all information given to Motorola, that it leaks out and becomes public domain, and that FairPlay would be completely useless as a DRM system.
Up to now, Apple had a backup plan. If FairPlay was ever seriously broken, Apple could have simply locked out all older iPod firmware revisions from accessing the iTunes music store. Using iPod Software Updater, a stronger FairPlay DRM could have been deployed and updated every iPod with minimal impact or downtime.
And, there is strong evidence to indicate all systems were go on this, iTunes both checks the version of itself as well as the iPod connected persistently.
In comes ROKR. The ROKR is sold by Cingular, who has no in-store firmware update protocol, lacks FOTA, and can only be updated over-the-wire. If FairPlay were to be completely broken, and Apple wanted to completely update the algorithm, every ROKR would have to be updated. Motorola does not have a user-installable firmware update program for GSM phones (iDEN update, as its name suggests, works only on IDEN phones).
Why write about this (and why on a site about Sprint)? Because it is one more reason that iDEN Update should not be a fluke. It makes no sense at all if consumers can update their own iPods that they cannot update their own phones. If the GSM/UMTS world choses to ignore FOTA, they at least should not ignore their own customers, or, as the iTunes scenario depicted above indicates, it could very well blow up in their faces.