The Winds of Change

Posted: January 14, 2008 in General, Movies/TV/Music

2008 is going to be an interesting year for those of us who buy digital music. Finally you can buy (at least part of) all the major label’s music online DRM free (but probably not fingerprint free). Now you’re not stuck to any one platform or parent company. Anyone who buys a piece of music can now breath a sigh of relief knowing that the track they buy will always be available to play (and they won’t be locked out of it for some inane reason).

Of course the ironic thing is that Amazon is who is bringing this to us. I say it’s ironic because even though Apple is really the company who made digital downloads popular, the recording industry doesn’t like the power that this has given Apple. This is why Apple doesn’t have DRM tracks for all labels, but Amazon does. It’s a smart move by the recording industry. They are finally giving the users what they want, and at the same time helping to keep Apple from becoming too powerful.

So what’s Apple to do? They’re faced with a situation that they are (almost) powerless against. On one hand, the iTunes store was established to sell iPods. In theory, Amazon selling MP3s doesn’t hurt Apple too much in that regard. If anything, it allows a gateway for those non-iPod owners to switch some time in the future. On the other hand, having a little control over the music industry isn’t a bad thing.

So I ask again, what should Apple do? They need to do two things. First they need to match Amazon’s prices (89 cents a track, and $8.99 for most albums), and second they need to let their users know that any DRM track that they purchase can be “upgraded” to the DRM free version at no cost when it becomes available.

iTunes is a better store than Amazon, but when it comes right down to it Amazon has a better product for less money.

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