cyberspacial musings
bits about the real and virtual worlds

28 Apr

Apple Bites Into The Music Industry

Today, Apple unveiled their iTunes Music Store with the tag line “Downloads Done Right”. Not much has been published about this yet, but here’s my take based on what I can see from their web site.

Frankly this service will have about zero impact on anyone currently sharing MP3 files. Here are the major problems —

  1. AAC format. I don’t know about your media player, but mine plays MP3s. Furthermore the AAC format requires a rather expensive license.
  2. Mac only. No Windows or Linux client available, so most computers are excluded from this.
  3. License. Playable on up to three computers is probably not going to cut it for most people, but at least it’s a good start. I’m guessing that either the iPod and iTunes units have DRM built in or the AAC files are encoded so that people who post them will be caught. There’s little information posted yet, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it.
  4. Price. Still a big problem. No one is going to pay 99 cents for a song. I suspect that the price limit is around 20-25 cents. Just think — at 99 cents per song, it would cost you at least 15 bucks to fill up a single CD.

I think Jobs is smarter than all of this, however. My guess is that this is just a foot in the door to begin to convince the record companies that they need to lower the prices and rethink business models around this to be successful. It wouldn’t surprise me if within a year the service becomes a monthly $20/month, all you can drink sort of thing. Jobs probably just wants to be there first.

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