Europe to Apple: Open up iTunes

First it was France, described as loopy by the great one. And now Sweden, Denmark, Norway and soon Finland are asking that Apple offer iTunes downloads that can playback on any device, and not just Apple’s iPod. In UK, BPI is making similar noises as well, reports The Financial Times.

An Apple spokesman said on Friday: “We have received a letter from the Norwegian Consumer Council and are looking into it. We’re looking forward to resolving this matter.” Previously Apple has called the French legislation “state-sponsored piracy”. Working together, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have sent letters to Apple setting deadlines for their demands. Similar action by Finland is expected.

My good buddy, Pip Coburn says it best when he writes, “When push comes to shove folks want their close rivals to be forced to open up so they can stay in the game but I doubt they want a precedent that suggests all content must work to all devices.” This is a indeed a slippery slope.

On topic of Apple specifically, the company for now can afford to ignore these countries for now, because they are not such a significant part of its revenue stream. Robert Semple, an analyst with CSFB had recently issued a report and indicated that iPod had an estimated penetration rate of 7.1% compared with 15.5% for the United States. He had also pointed out that Apple has only six retail stores in Europe – all of them in UK, which means, the company is not that hot on rest of Europe. Looks like if these countries are successful, it is going to remain that way!

Update: The anti-iTunes brigade will be holding protests in the US outside some Apple stores tomorrow. Boing Boing is championing that. My view – don’t like it, don’t buy it. Vote with you dollars, spend them else where, like on MTV Urge.