iTunes Rumors: DRM Dead, Variable Pricing Cometh, and 3G Downloads for the iPhone!

iPhone vs. Big Media

Pre-Macworld rumors are flying with CNet reporting that Apple has finally succeeded in getting Big Music to allow iTunes to sell DRM-free (non-copy protected) music, something long ago granted to competitors like Amazon MP3.

The cost? Variable pricing. Apple has tried to hold the line at a consistent $0.99 per song pricing (briefly flirting with a premium $1.29 for iTunes Plus' higher bit-rate, DRM-free music before dropping it back down to $0.99 as well). Now, the same rumor holds that Apple will let Big Music sell the latest, hottest hits at a much higher rater, and older, catalog titles at a reduced $0.80 price point.

The best news for iPhone owners? The iTunes Store App currently only allows music downloads via WiFi, but that might also be changing -- to direct downloads via EDGE or 3G.

Would you be willing to pay more for the Top Tens and less for the oldies? Or did they have you at iPhone 3G downloads?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iTunes Rumors: DRM Dead, Variable Pricing Cometh, and 3G Downloads for the iPhone!


heyyyy guys i cant wait for macworld i am actually right now on your normal page and not the iphone page cause my phone bill hasnt been paid lol so i cant follow you guys on twinkle or check ur posts every 5 min it stinks well anyways i cant wait for macworld keep up the great work!!

I'd like to do everything from my iPhone so yeah they had me at 3G or Edge. I'd love nothing more than being able to download music wherever I am since I am already paying for a data plan and should get everything. As far as music it just depends how much higher of a price they put on their newer vs older music. Some of iTunes prices on newer albums alone is just stupid when I can walk into the nearest Best Buy and buy it for say 9.99 compared to apple selling the same album for like 12.99 for what? An extra song?

Meh, $3 is worth it if I:
a) Have people over and just want to grab a new album that we've been discussing
b) Dont have pants on or want to leave the house
c) Have just gotten home from a night out and couldnt drive even if required to.

The music industry gets too greedy and people will just start downloading for free again. I don't see an upside to anybody

They had me at iPhone 3g downloads!!!!!! That would be great being able to download music wer ever I am. They would definatly make more money cuz sometimes I just in the mood to shop 4 new music but can't cuz I have no wifi at my house

What about the hundreds of .m4p songs I already own? Will iTunes unlock these for me so I dont have to do the CD-R crack?
This will actually spur more Blackberry sales.

99 cents was acceptable, but now I will just order my albums from amazon. Same concept I can easily order them while am at home and recieve them with in two days. And I prefare having the CD album then the digital one anyways.

I was hooked at 3G as well. Variable pricing would be good especially if older stuff is cheaper. I have found a few good cheap albums that compare well to shop prices but generally, iTunes tends to be more expensive. I'd expect to pay slightly less for a download but it's not always the case (Batman is more expensive as a download).

3g downloads sounds about right. The problem with apple pricing to high is that you still have to make a hard copy. Everyone who has fubared there laptop, loosing iTunes knows you only make that mistake once.
It is well to easy to download off the tinternet and transfer to iTunes for free, hell it's the easiest way to make your iPhone ringtones for one. If they want this to stop apple need to stop ripping people off; it's a freakin download it should be half the price of a hard copy not more.
3g downloads would be brilliant, but I think I would rather have say a flash player or better 3g reception.

Most of the Top 40 stuff sucks anyway. Everything I buy from the iTunes store is either old or indie, so this likely won't effect me much. iPhone 3G downloads, however, would be VERY cool!

3G downloads wold be great!! Very much appreciated, but... more expensive tracks. Depends.
I was happy with paying the premium for the higher bit rate tracks. 99p as opposed to 79p was still low enough for me to not even really think about it. But if it starts pushing towards £1.50, thats when i start thinking about the purchase.
Same with Apps from the app store. £1.19.. I dont even think about it! I've paid that for apps i've deleted after a day, but more than that and i tend not to download unless its a AAA title.(SimCity, Rolando, i'm looking at you)