Thursday, October 18, 2007

The most likely reason Apple lowered iTunes Plus track prices

In case you missed it, Apple lowered prices on iTunes Plus tracks (you know the ones encoded DRM-free in 256 kbps AAC) from $1.29 to $.99. Now the simple analysis is that Apple caved to Amazon's MP3 Store priced for non-DRMed tracks of ~ $.99, but there is also another, and I think more likely reason.

Universal is trying to destroy iTunes. They are withholding video content, DRM-free audio content, and have refused to sign a long term contract with the iTunes Store for existing DRMed audio content. They are offering their music catalog to other online music stores, again Amazon, without DRM at $.99 a track retail pricing It seems obvious to me that Apple priced iTunes Plus songs as a huge carrot to the music cartel for giving DRM-free songs a chance to succeed. EMI and Apple were respectively the first major music company and online music store to offer DRM-free music, but a large motivator for EMI must have been not only the additional per track revenue, but making the $9.99 album price more attractive again. At $1.29, buying just a few songs starts to make the album price look more attractive. It has been nearly 5 months since EMI started offering DRM-free tracks on iTunes, and other majors have still not agreed to offer DRM-free tracks on iTunes. Apple has been pretty adamant that track pricing should be $.99, but it seems pretty obvious they sacrificed this principle in order to achieve the even more desirable DRM-free state for all music sold on its store. Since the majors still haven't cooperated with iTunes, Apple finally decided to remove the carrot. Any majors counting on the additional revenue when they decided to finally, inevitably, offer DRM-free tracks on iTunes can say goodbye to that forever. The window of opportunity is closed. I am sure Apple had Universal in mind when making this decision.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On iPhone hacking and iBricks

I have had all I can stand, and I can't stand no more. It is this simple, you are responsible for what happens to your hacked iPhone. You terminated your agreement with Apple and possibly intentionally with AT&T to unlock the phone or run 3rd party apps. Stop complaining if your phone gets bricked. It is ludicrous to suggest that Apple is responsible for continuing to ensure your hacked iPhone continues to work with Apple updates. If you didn't want to use AT&T or the applications that came with the iPhone weren't good enough for you, then you shouldn't have bought the iPhone. Be accountable for your own actions.

We all want 3rd party applications on the iPhone, native apps, not just browser based apps. If it doesn't ever happen, then I might not buy 2.0, but it's also equally possible that native apps won't appear until Leopard drops, or shortly thereafter. But I want those apps to work and not break my phone, it's got to work, I can't go to try and make a call and the phone doesn't work. If it takes time to put together a proper SDK and distribution system, I am totally cool with that. Like I said, I thought the apps already on the phone were worth the purchase, and now I have the iTunes Wi-Fi store for free, but native apps would clearly cement the iPhone as the premier mobile development target. Apple clearly knows this.