Home > Apple, DRM, iTunes > DRM Free Music from Apple and EMI Isn’t Likely to Help Other Players

DRM Free Music from Apple and EMI Isn’t Likely to Help Other Players

Michael Gartenberg | April 02, 2007, 08:13 AM

The big new from EMI and Apple wasn’t the Beatles (as I pointed out yesterday) but rather the fact that Apple and EMI have announced that they will be selling music without digital rights management. The music will come at a higher price point at $1.29 a song for singles and will have higher sound quality, albums will be DRM free, have the higher sound quality but will remain at the same price point as current albums. Format is AAC and encoded at 256kbs so we’re talking about very interoperable with other devices without a major price bump. The entire EMI catalog will be available from Apple next month and consumers will be able to upgrade their existing music for $.30 a song. Jobs also mentioned deals with other labels before year end.
As my colleague David Card points out, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Source: http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/

Categories: Apple, DRM, iTunes
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