Sunday, November 23, 2008

Apple Wins Again

Over the past week or so the "Mac news web," as I call it, has been reporting some rumors that Apple is in talks with Sony music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group over removing DRM from their offerings on the iTunes Store. Well, it looks like the rumors are true. I hit the "upgrade my library" link this morning on the iTunes Store and look what I found:

From in my opinion...

All these albums, and the ones on the next page, are from Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony music and their subsidiaries. If you click through to the albums themselves the individual tracks don't show up yet as iTunes Plus tracks but the fact that these albums are showing up under the iTunes Plus section is very encouraging. Perhaps we'll get an announcement as soon as next week, but I doubt it since it is the week before Thanksgiving in the U.S. I'm guessing we will get something not long after this holiday and before the christmas shopping season.

Apple getting the rest of the major record labels to sign on to DRM-free tracks in the iTunes Store is a very good thing. You'll remember EMI released all their music in the iTunes Store as iTunes Plus tracks about a year ago. Since then the other labels, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and Sony, have all been trying to "break Apple's dominance" in the digital download space by colluding with each other and licensing their music, DRM-free, to other online stores but not to Apple. And it has been hurting their business; as the old saying goes the labels have been cutting off their own noses to spite their faces. So this is good news not only for consumers and Apple but for the labels themselves. Since Apple controls about 70% of the worldwide digital distribution of music. But it won't be all sunshine and unicorns. For a few years now the labels have been making noises in the entertainment press about how unhappy they are with the pricing structure on the iTunes Store. In general they hate the fact that Apple won't raise the price of a single track from 99 cents. They labels want to be able to set their own pricing on the iTunes Store. Fortunately Apple has said no to that and I expect they will continue to stand firm and look out for us, the consumers. In light of that I'm sure the labels made some tough demands. Most of which Apple refused. But I would not be surprised to see some changes in bundling when the announcement is made.

Now if Apple will just get rid of the ridiculous "all or nothing" iTunes Plus upgrade policy and let us upgrade only what we want to upgrade that would make it all perfect. With unicorns.

Update: In the time it took me to type this up the number of albums in my upgrade section rose from 12 to 15, just in the space of about 10 minutes. Apple is definitely gearing up for this to happen.

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