Keurig brewing up controversy over DRM-enabled coffee maker

Grab a cup of Joe and take a seat to hear the latest controversy in the coffee industry: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the makers of the popular Keurig, has come up with a new way to prevent owners from using cheaper, generic pods.

kcupTech companies might find this tale interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the strong-armed tactic of locking one widget to another is an idea many flirt with as a way to retain customers. Second, geeks drink a lot of caffeine.

Green Mountain says the new machines, which are coming out in the fall, will include interactive readers programmed to work only with Keurig-licensed pods — where it primarily makes its money.

In response to the move, TreeHouse Foods has filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing Keurig of “anti-competitive” measures to “maintain its monopoly by redesigning its brewers to lock out competitors’ products,” reports Techdirt, which has a copy of the complaint.

Luckily, there are alternatives. To name two, Starbucks makes the Verismo and there’s the Nespresso.

Or, better yet, wait for high-tech solution and jailbreak it once it comes out.

  • elbowman

    Didn’t HP do this with their toner cartridges?! That went over like a floater in a punch bowl, too.

  • zoeller

    If this comes to fruition I will be the first on a long, long, long list of boycotters.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    This is doomed to failure I predict.

    1. DRM schemes are always broken eventually. No one has yet found an scheme that is effective over the long-term.

    2. As this is essentially a hardware-based DRM solution, this suffers from an additional weakness insofar as it’s hard to impossible to update the system. So when the DRM is broken, it will be broken for good on some/all systems.

    3. They’ve made their system a particularly inviting target to attack for several reasons. First, there’s the cachet of being first: no one has broken DRM in a coffee maker or any appliance really. Whoever cracks this first gets bragging rights. Second, a lot of people in the research community who hate DRM in general will likely view DRM coffee as egregious and heavy handed and so worthy of some “correction”.

    DRM qualifies as one of those eternally bright ideas that keeps coming back again, and again.

  • http://timandjeni.com/ Timothy Ellis

    Heh, doesn’t seem to be any controversy. Everyone I’ve seen talking about it universally agrees that it’s a terrible idea that will flop big-time.

  • The Venerable Stan

    From an economic point of view, you can brew a whole pot of ordinary, cheap coffee, only drink one cup, throw away the remainder, and still save money against one cup of overpriced Keurig brew. . . .

    • Billybob207

      Let alone the environmental impact of all those little pods. Keurig use is anti-earth.