Apple today announced that EMI Music’s entire digital catalog of music will be available for purchase DRM-free (without digital rights management) from the iTunes Store worldwide in May. DRM-free tracks from EMI will be offered at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding, resulting in audio quality indistinguishable from the original recording, for just $1.29 per song. In addition, iTunes customers will be able to easily upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song.
“Apple has dominated the market for digital music players not through lock-in but through product offerings that have resonated with consumers. As Apple itself has pointed out, there’s relatively little iTunes music on each iPod so this offering is not likely to tip the scales in the favor of any other player. iPods have driven customers to the iTunes store, it’s never been the other way around and it’s still the music player itself that drives sales,” Michael Gartenberg blogs for Jupiter Research.
“So what’s the net? This is a great PR win for Apple and Steve Jobs. Apple was seen as the company delivering DRM free music to consumers, a move that will only increase their overall mindshare and of course, mindshare has a funny way of becoming more marketshare. It also goes a long way to address regulators in Europe complaining about the iPod’s lack of interoperability,” Gartenberg writes.
“For other vendors in the hardware space, it will eventually remove the issue of iTunes lock in but if their sales don’t take off, it will be clear that it wasn’t lock in to the iPod economy that prevented their success. For other music sellers, the news isn’t as important. It’s not likely that subscription services will be able to allow those customers to download music without DRM and that’s the core differentiation against iTunes at the moment,” Gartenberg writes.
Gartenberg writes, “It is a good step forward for consumers but more importantly, it showed Apple at the forefront of acting as ‘champion’ for consumer interests. After all, it wasn’t Rob Glaser or Bill Gates up there with EMI.”
Full article here.
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