I have made no secret in the past about my hatred of DRM. Well, now the sour taste it leaves in my mouth is literal and not just figurative. With the death, early Monday morning, of the Keurig machine which came with the Beloved, we had to go out and get a new one. And all of the new Keurig machines for sale are the ‘2.0’ variety with the coffee DRM.
The DRM is both simple in theory: the machine has an infrared camera built in which detects a logo on the lid of the pod. If it can’t find one, it won’t make you the coffee. Of course, the relative simplicity of the scheme makes the DRM—like all forms of DRM—easy to circumvent. Just cut the lid off a used, but approved, pod and tape it onto the non-approved pod you want to use, and voila, the machine will happily spew out your drink.
The Beloved asked me, as I fumed the whole way home on the stupidity of this, why it bothers me so much. All off the coffee we happened to have at home, except for one lone iced tea sample, had the special logo after all. All of our coffee will brew, and one year post-release, the old non-compatible pods will all be gone from the store shelves by now. They will only be selling coffee we can buy. So, yes, it’s annoying. But why is it offensive?
I found my answer in most recent Netflix find, a charming documentary about a woman whose family was premised on a secret none of them would admit. What she found galling about the whole experience, once the truth was revealed to her, was the deceptiveness of the whole thing. Even when confronted with fairly direct evidence, her many friends and family continue to hide behind excuses and justifications.
I feel the same way about DRM, in a way. It’s the deceptiveness of the whole thing which galls me. It is so obvious what is going on here. Keurig did this because they make more money when you buy their coffee over somebody else’s. It’s vendor lock-in, pure and simple. So to have their CEO blather on to the press about how the DRM is needed for ‘performance’ and ‘safety’ reasons just makes me mad. It’s not vendor lock-in, Keurig just really wants to altruistically protect me from inferior coffee? Come on.
And this article where they blamed the problem on ‘consumer education’? Check this out:
“Kelley argues that the issue has been one of consumer education, blaming “consumer confusion around pod compatibility which we’ve mentioned in the past”. Once consumers learn about the wide range of licensed coffee available, Kelley says he is sure sales will pick up.”
So, what he’s saying is that it isn’t ‘we have made an inferior product,’ it’s ‘you’re not smart enough to understand?’ Are you serious, Keurig? You’re dictating what kind of coffee I can brew in the machine I bought and paid for, and when I complain, you’re calling me stupid? Let’s get real and call a spade a spade. This has nothing to do at all with my health and safety and convenience. If they would just admit it, I’d still be annoyed. But I would be a lot less offended.