The content bastards think they’ve got us by the nuts

See here. NBC Universal is pulling out on iTunes. Jeff Zucker (photo) is pissed because I told him he looks like Homer Simpson in a suit. But come on. He does. So all this stuff about how the negotiations have been friendly? Yeah. Right. Zucker went over a table at me and had to be pulled off. Anyway. Some of the other video content guys are going to pull the same bullshit too, giving notice of a pull-out. They think this is going to scare the shit out of us and we’ll come back to the table and let them set their own prices and mess with our store and grab a bigger cut for themselvs. Their big argument is that we need video content to sell our video iPods. So they figure they’ve got us by the short hairs. Which they kind of do, I suppose. As Zucker said, “What are you going to do? Go make your own TV shows? Film your own movies? I don’t think so, asshole.”

Then again, they need us. If they walk, they’re giving up 80% of the distribution channel. So at this point it’s kind of a game of chicken. My feeling is we should just stay Zen, just keep handing them blank pieces of paper and sticking to our position and not yielding. In public, to the press, we’ll try to seem neutral and nice and polite. We’ll paint ourselves as the friend of the consumer, and we’ll paint the content guys as the big bad guys who’ve been ripping people off for decades (consumers and artists alike). We’ll say (not publicly) that what this is really about is that the content guys are looking for new ways to rip people off and that they will do so, unless we, Apple, put a stop to it on behalf of consumers everywhere.

Basically what it comes down to is which side will customers believe? Which company do customers trust? Which company do they like best? As I told Zucker, if he and the other movie studios and TV networks want to put their brand reputation up against ours, I’m happy to do that. Fear not, Apple faithful. I like our chances.

(Photo by Nigel Helmetdale, courtesy of Daily Mail. .)