By Doug Gaff
Customers demand choice, choice drives competition, and competition drives innovation and lowered cost. That’s a Free Market Economy, right?
Well, no economic or political system is completely pure. Take my iPod for
example. iPod’s are small, pretty, and surprisingly reliable from a
software perspective. But once you buy one, you’re locked into
"accessory monopoly." Not an Apple accessory monopoly exactly, but a
monopoly on the iPod hardware interface itself. I have an Alpine iPod deck with a digital interface in my car, an Onkyo iPod dock
on my home stereo, and a couple of iPod chargers. All of these plug
into the digital interface on the bottom of the iPod. The interface is
nice. It provides digital extraction of MP3 files so that decoding can
be done by external A/V equipment. It provides high-quality line-level
output for an external analog interface. It provides the ability to
extract the music list for external display (on my TV or my Alpine’s
screen). It’s also proprietary.