Microsoft blocking MP3s on Verizon Wireless phones? – Engadget

Blog, Design with Intent, DRM, External Control

Verizon phone image from
Via Engadget (“Microsoft blocking MP3s on Verizon Wireless phones?”), another example of an architecture of control being imposed on a product or service subsequent to purchase by a mandated firmware or software update (the TiVo example is the best-known in this category).

“Users who choose to “upgrade” their handsets to support the Verizon Wireless music store are doing so at a tradeoff: you’ll no longer be able to play MP3s on your phone. The new phone software prevents you from playing MP3s on the phone as a result of an agreement Verizon Wireless made with Microsoft, the latter of whom stipulated that if the Verizon Wireless music store was gonna fly at all, MS wanted to make sure that phones using it could only play back Microsoft’s audio format… Users aren’t being warned ahead of time that they’ll lose MP3 playing functionality by upgrading their phones.”

Whilst it’s true in this case that these are actually replacement phones (as opposed to an automatic software update to an existing product), if the customer’s contract is taken as a ‘package’ in itself, I think it’s fair to put this in the same category as the TiVo update.
As “Mike” points out in the comments on the Engadget story:

“An “upgrade” that cripples your phone and reduces its abilities? Wow, where do I sign? This is just another lame attempt by Microsoft to lock up the market and stamp out MP3s.”


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