"Many of you have purchased books and would like to keep them"

by Volker Weber

Thank you for being one of our valued customers. We are writing to you today to make a very sad announcement. BeamItDown Software and the iFlow Reader will cease operations as of May 31, 2011.

Many of you have purchased books and would like to keep them. You may still be able to read them using iFlow Reader although we cannot guarantee that it will work beyond May 31, 2011. ... We also strongly recommend that you go to our website and download all of your books to your computer which will let you access them with Adobe Digital Editions or any other ebook application that is compatible with Adobe DRM protected epubs.

Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.

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But good for Apple.

Erik Brooks, 2011-05-11

What's bad for the customer, is also bad for the vendor.

Volker Weber, 2011-05-11

I think their stock price disagrees with you.

Apple has a long history of doing exactly this type of thing to companies, going back to the shareware days.

Despite things like:
- no iPhone multi-tasking
- no iPhone/iPad flash
- no iPhone/iPad uploading of files from the filesystem
- batteries that can't be removed
- overpriced hardware

...the consumer that is the lowest common denominator will buy their products anyway, and they'll be glad they did. Some power users will buy their products as well, but it isn't the bulk of their customer base.

These types of restrictions may *eventually* catch up with them, but nothing they've done precludes them from switching positions, just like they've done with multitasking. I'm thinking they'll be just fine.

Erik Brooks, 2011-05-11

Erik, you raise a lot of points that are debatable. None of them touches DRM.

DRM is bad for the customer. And it's bad for the vendor. iTunes used to have crippled audio files, now it doesn't.

Volker Weber, 2011-05-11

All of the points I mentioned are bad for the consumer. But that doesn't mean that they're bad for the vendor. At least, not *yet*.

In fact, many of these are quite good for the vendor. No file uploading and no Flash support have allowed Apple to ensure a strong position for the App Store.

Over time the disadvantages I pointed out may disappear. This will happen if they do become bad for the vendor. But that takes competition and time.

All of this applies to Apple's DRM as well. It is definitely bad for the consumer. And it will likely eventually be bad for the company. But it's quite good for Apple now and will be for quite some time. This will probably change, but again it takes time.

Erik Brooks, 2011-05-12


A table has four legs. A cow has four legs. Therefore a table is a cow.

Volker is making a point about DRM, and as he already mentioned, ITunes no longer has it.

Andrew Magerman, 2011-05-12

Greed and arrogance are bad for the customer.

Apple wants SW publishers to use the in-app API for sales, of which it takes a whopping 30% of the revenue. While SW publishers may use other additional ways to sell their goods (e.g. e-books) inside their apps, the 30% leeching makes it impossible for iFlow Reader and others to pursue their business model.

This is like VW asking 30% of the gas-bill, if I fill up my Jetta.

And while Volker is 100% right with his comment on DRM, taking the going-down of iFlow Reader as a given, the motivation behind implementing DRM is the root cause of the grief: Greed and arrogance.

The equivalent of DRM in the finance sector are IPPs (Kreditrestschuldversicherungen) which were forced on customers taking a loan costing up to 25-30% of the credit total, and being useless in nearly all realistic cases. Barclays et al. have to pay back.

Who coined the abbreviation DKK once again?

Armin Roth, 2011-05-12

I see it the other way. The App store is a hosting site. So if you want to sell via the iTunes store you need to pay if you charge the end user.

A lot of the magazines are abusing the system by putting up free apps (so Apple doesn't get paid) but use the iTunes to sell the magazines.

It is more like putting free flyers in a local shop (with the agreement of the shop) and then charging people who want to buy papers off you while you are in the shop based on those flyers.

iFlow had a number of ways to work around this rule.

Simon O'Doherty, 2011-05-12

I agree, Simon. You have convinced me that greed and arrogance are actually very good for the customer and I must have been completely blind not to see the obvious.

Also I admit to be a crotchety old internet-printing dumbass, who simply cannot accept the fact, that Apple is right in jailing their customers to pay for the prison plus the guards.

So, I am going to fetch this page now from my 9-needle-printer where I have sent it just in case I will need it later.

Thank you for pointing out my error.

Armin Roth, 2011-05-12

Armin, der Ton passt mir nicht.

Volker Weber, 2011-05-12

@Andrew - You're missing my point. I'm not arguing about the concept of DRM being bad for the customer. In fact, I quite agree.

My argument is with Volker's statement about "What's bad for the customer, is also bad for the vendor." It's simply not true as a blanket-case.

Erik Brooks, 2011-05-12

Erik, let me quote Abe Lincoln:

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

What's bad for the customer, will be bad for the vendor. You make some point where you think they are bad for the customer. As I said, they are debatable, but quite frankly, I am not interested.

Volker Weber, 2011-05-12

"What's bad for the customer, will be bad for the vendor."

That version I can *definitely* get behind.

Erik Brooks, 2011-05-12

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