iTunes Dumps DRM, Adds Variable Pricing
On Jan. 6, 2009, Apple Inc. confirmed that the 4 major labels have agreed to dump highly debated DRM technology from their songs on sale through iTunes and that a new tiered pricing plan will be in effect beginning in April.
DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It is technology applied to copyrighted songs as protection against unlawful usage or modification of the files. DRM puts restricions on the devices used to play the songs and makes it so that only authorized devices can be used. Going DRM-free, as I understand it, will allow more players to become compatible with iTunes, therefore increasing Apple’s potential market, making the announcement that the big 4 support the change is great marketing for iTunes. I personally have both an iPod and a small SanDisk mp3 device that I had previously subscribed to Rhapsody with.
If iTunes is going to change to the point of being able to interface with my little mp3 device, I’m all for it! I have never been satisfied with any player that I needed to connect my SanDisk with. iTunes has been my music player of choice for a long while. I am not one to download music off of LimeWire or other such programs, so DRM has not personally affected me beyond the extent of my mp3 devices. This does does bring up a possible issue for Apple. Will allowing iTunes to interface with outside brand mp3 devices pose a threat to iPod/iPhone sales? Some people may believe that yes, it will because these other devices… if made to be iTunes-compliant have extra bells and whistles in the form of built-in microphones (bad news for the currently un-mic’d iPods), FM radio reception, and recording capabilities. I see it this way. At this point in time, the iPod and iPhone have been marketed so well that they have a very solid following of loyal iPod/iPhone-ites. Granted, I love and spend most of my waking minutes adoring my iPod. It has become a staple in my “must carry” items and will continue to be such for a very long while. However, I do not believe that the iPod will live forever. It may take a huge amount of marketing, but non-Apple brands can eventually win us iPod/iPhone-ites over. The possibility of these devices being iTunes-compliant brings up another question. How can iTunes survive without monogamy with its long-time buddy, the iPod? This is where the new tiered pricing plan comes into play.
The new pricing, according to the article will have the pricing of songs at $0.69, $0.99, and at $1.29, with more songs being at $0.69 than at $1.29. This is a smart decision by Apple considering it’s competition from monthly music subscription services such as Rhapsody and Napster. $0.99 was a steal when iTunes first launched. You could download and own only the songs you truly wanted and save a little cash while you were at it. The lower-priced competition cut into Apple’s market, making this move a good one. I love owning my music without fear of having to re download the songs I truly felt I needed in my device 365 days a year. Renting music brings more variety to my music library, but owning the songs I love is more valuable to me. The big drop in price will definitely make a difference in how much more I can own now that money is tight.
In short. Will the DRM dump and shift to tiered pricing cause riots in the streets in some sort of mp3 mayhem? I highly doubt it. Will it bring a wave of change for Apple’s iTunes? Quite possibly, yes.
Thanks for reading!