How SOPA/PIPA Make Apple’s Position Stronger

Interesting education/textbook presentation from Apple today. I personally am very excited and think Apple is targeting at least one big thing — access and availability of curriculum — from my education issues list. That one alone affects a number of my bullet points.

But it is important to point out that technology can’t solve every education problem. Nor can it solve every problem the content owners — music, movies, books, newspapers — have in this increasingly digital and connected world. And in the end, that was the primary impetus behind SOPA and PIPA (great video by the Khan Academy by the way. Go click that link and watch it).

But as SOPA and PIPA are beaten to death by a tech industry that got this one right, their defeat could be a boon to Apple. And today’s event demonstrated to me why.

Notice where the event was held? New York City. The heart of publishing. And I don’t believe that that was an accident.

As the content industries flail for revenues, Apple (along with a few other companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu) continues to stand by them, providing a new way to distribute and stay relevant in this new world. And while Apple’s tactics may appear strong-armed, there is a certain reality that these content companies need to face. Namely, we have other ways of accessing this stuff and most of it is free.

See, says Apple, we are still here trying to help you make money. Look how bad off the music industry would be today if not for iTunes and iPod. The iPad and App Store have made access to your newspapers and magazines possible everywhere and opened new possibilities for revenue streams. We are trying to help movies and textbooks, too. But the reality, friends, is that you can’t charge $18 for a CD that has one good song, you can’t charge $30 for a movie or $200 for a textbook, at least not if you actually want people to buy legal copies. SOPA and PIPA can’t save you. And if you trust us, we will help guide you in this new world.

Far fetched? Maybe. Maybe Apple’s ultimate goal is to bludgeon the content industries to death, wait for their wells to run dry, or just lop them all off at the knees so the company can deal directly with creators. But I don’t think so. I think Apple’s goal is to sell hardware and they know damn well that having excellent, well-supported content at a reasonable (to consumers) price is critical to its success.