Feeds

Apple iTunes Store goes '100% DRM-free' - allegedly

Schiller keynote makes $1.29 the new black

Top three mobile application threats

Macworld Expo Take your pick - the iTunes Store is going 100 per cent DRM-free, or Apple is whacking 30 cents onto the price of each song and encouraging you to upgrade your whole iTunes library to iTunes Plus, at 30 cents (UK 20p) per song. Apple prefers the 100 per cent DRM-free line, naturally, but there's a price being paid to the record labels, and with "high-quality audio... that’s virtually indistinguishable from the original recording" defined as 256-Kbps AAC, there seems to be headroom for another bite in a year or two.

The iTunes Store is not going 100 per cent DRM-free exactly - it is offering 8 million of its 10 million songs in DRM-free iTunes Plus immediately, and another 2 million by the end of the quarter. This is thanks to an agreement with the four major music labels, Universal, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, and EMI.

Alongside this, from April the basic (i.e. not 100 per cent DRM-free) iTunes pricing moves to three tiers, 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. According to Apple senior VP Phil Schiller, there will be more songs on sale at 69 cents than there will be at $1.29. He didn't get specific about how many would still be on sale at the current 99 cents price, but it seems reasonable to speculate that at least initially, most of the store will stay at 99 cents. The new sliding scale does however allow higher pricing for new releases and promos, and lower pricing for slower-moving back catalogue, which is a model the labels are familiar with.

So how much of that is going DRM-free and how much does it count as a price rise? That depends on what takes and what doesn't. The introduction of iTunes Plus clearly hasn't trashed the neighbourhood, and has been sufficiently interesting for the music labels to entice them to jump all the way in. The higher price tier for the basic service gives them a (presumably) substantially bigger cut from new releases, while the lower tier gives them the opportunity to exploit the long tail, should such a thing be possible.

Logically, if the store really is going to be offering all of its wares in the iTunes Plus format, then one would expect there to be a price above the $1.29 premium tier for the premium/iTunes Plus combo. Or do new releases stay DRM until they drop a price tier? We await enlightenment.

In addition, Apple announced that it is lifting the current restriction limiting iPhone iTunes purchases to Wi-Fi - these will now be possible over 3G as well. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.