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iPod touch displaying iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store  (Source: Apple)
Apple launches iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store; Microsoft execs shout "DOH!"

Today is Apple's big day and it has released a new version of iTunes to accommodate the new iPods and the iPhone.

iPhone customers can now purchase ringtones from iTunes. Customers must first pay $0.99 for a song from iTunes, then another $0.99 for the privilege of using that song as a ringtone. Apple is including a utility within iTunes to create ringtones based on any 30-second segment from a song complete with fade-in and fade-out.

Apple says that over 500,000 songs will be available to make the conversion to ringtones and the feature will be enabled in iTunes software sometime next week.

Apple also today announced the new iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. iPod touch owners will be able to use their WiFi connection to logon to iTunes from any wireless hotspot. From the interface, users can browse "New Releases," "What's Hot," and "Games" from the top tab on the screen. Users can also search the entire iTunes music library, purchase individual songs or buy complete albums.

Songs bought from the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store are downloaded directly to the iPod touch. Docking the iPod touch to your desktop PC or Mac will then sync the songs with iTunes library.

Apple announced that the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store will also be extended to the iPhone.

Interestingly enough, Apple also announced Starbucks integration with the new iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. Customers who surf on a Starbucks hotspot will be greeted with a Starbucks icon in their iPhone/iPod touch UI. Customers will then be able to buy the songs playing over the Starbucks speaker system through iTunes.

The biggest thing to take away from this announcement is how much Microsoft dropped the ball with the Zune. Microsoft had all of the building blocks in place to offer a wireless music store with the Zune. Microsoft gave customers WiFi with the Zune, but the company chose to seriously cripple the feature and limit its effectiveness.

Apple has now taken WiFi with the iPhone and iPod touch and expanded its overwhelming online music dominance with the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. Microsoft is going to need a lot more than a $199 Zune to combat this latest salvo from Apple.

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nice move....
By Moishe on 9/5/2007 2:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
You're absolutely right that MS dropped the ball. Microsoft has always been too DRM friendly and I think it's cost them a lot.

Having Wifi in Zune was genius... crippling it was very stupid. It's basically all but useless. The iPhone becomes the step to the next gen of iPods which will probably all have wifi.

And the Starbucks integration... lol genius. The starbucks crowd and the iPod crowd generally go hand in hand and they have the money to plunk down for a song at a moment's notice.

RE: nice move....
By tdawg on 9/5/2007 2:57:55 PM , Rating: 2
The starbucks crowd and the iPod crowd generally go hand in hand and they have the money to plunk down for a song at a moment's notice.

As opposed to others who have to save up for a month to get the 99 cents it costs to purchase a song? If you've just bought a new iPhone or iPod touch, I hope you wouldn't have overextended yourself to the point that 99 cents will break the bank.

RE: nice move....
By Moishe on 9/5/2007 3:04:19 PM , Rating: 2
LOL... no... I mean of all the places I would expect to find iPod owners just hanging around, it would be Starbucks. I had one lady start a big iPod sales sales pitch while I was in line at Starbucks... Ipodders seem to be pretty zealous about the hardware.

I bet Apple is giving Starbucks a cut of each song delivered thru their wifi.

RE: nice move....
By therealnickdanger on 9/5/2007 4:15:42 PM , Rating: 2
Their cut would most likely be more customers buying coffee.

I can see it now, I'll be sitting in Starbucks sipping my frozen caramel double-shot sugar drink and a new Teddybears song will come on. Suddenly eight out of ten patrons will whip out their iPods and purchase the song in a frezy of technogasmic lunacy.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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