Chris Thilk opines on the Steve Jobs call for DRM-free music from the major music labels. In his post, he underscores the significance of public perception and the role past performance plays in current and future results:
I applaud Jobs calling the record labels out like this but wish that more people would apply the same natural skepticism toward his big pronouncement and announcements that they would if, say, Bill Gates had said all this.
He correctly argues that Jobs’ intentions likely are not as noble as they may first appear:
If the music labels were to drop their DRM requirements in not only the iTunes Store but others as well, more people will buy iPods since they won’t be locked into competing players that only work with competing stores.
And Chris is right. The main reason I switched from an iPod to another MP3 device was because I wanted to take advantage of MTV’s Urge subscription music service. That’s not to say I’d definitely switch back, but I sure as heck would give it serious consideration, whereas so long as Apple remains wed to its pay-per-song DRM model, I’m not going anywhere near it again.
It is worth considering what the reaction would have been if Bill Gates had made a similar declaration yesterday. Would he be praised for joining the blogosphere’s conversation (even though what Jobs posted hardly qualifies as a blog entry)? Or would he be skewered for trying to once again perpetuate a Microsoft monopoly?
Often the facts matter far less than perception. That’s why it is so important for companies to have a comprehensive understanding of how they are perceived and to prepare for that as they make announcements or handle crises.