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.