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The new iTunes Plus store
Apple's new iTunes Plus is now selling unprotected music at a premium price

The wave washing away DRM hits Apple’s music service with today with the announcement of iTunes Plus. The DRM-free music tracks do command a premium over the traditional $0.99 protected tracks, with each 256 kbps AAC encoded track costing the consumer $1.29 each. iTunes customers who have already purchased tracks that are now available on iTunes Plus may upgrade their library of previously purchased content to iTunes Plus tracks for just 30 cents a song and $3.00 for most albums.

Songs downloaded through iTunes Plus allow customers to use their purchased content without limitations on the type of music player or number of computers that purchased songs can be played on.

EMI is the first and only record label with its catalog available on the new service, as announced in April. “This is a tremendous milestone for digital music,” said Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group. “Consumers are going to love listening to higher quality iTunes Plus tracks from their favorite EMI artists with no usage restrictions.”

Although only EMI currently stands alone on iTunes, more are promised within the near future. “Our customers are very excited about the freedom and amazing sound quality of iTunes Plus,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We expect more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus versions by the end of this year.”

EMI’s venture into unchained music isn’t only on iTunes – the record company announced earlier this month its involvement with Amazon.com’s new MP3 music store.



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What?
By KaiserCSS on 5/30/2007 12:21:17 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
“This is a tremendous milestone for digital music...”


This is outrageous. Since when was Apple the only company to offer DRM-free music? And how is something so obvious and irritating a "tremendous milestone"? I swear, comments like that really irk me. They swear they're doing something special even though it's what the consumers have been craving for a long while.

And they're doing it wrong! An extra 30% per song for DRM-freedom? No, they shouldn't be charging extra for something that should be standard.




RE: What?
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 12:28:36 PM , Rating: 5
I agree - I also think they should be offered as MP3, since that is the format with the broadest compatibility across devices. AAC may or may not be technically superior, but MP3 is the only format supported by all devices.

Apple likes to start with something bad, and gradually make it better and better so that people think they are heroes, e.g., for finally "rescuing" the consumer from DRM. LOL.


RE: What?
By DEredita on 5/30/2007 12:30:31 PM , Rating: 1
oooh reading pwn3d me. I didn't notice they were in AAC format. That sucks.


RE: What?
By michael2k on 5/30/07, Rating: 0
RE: What?
By bunnyfubbles on 5/30/2007 1:42:15 PM , Rating: 2
Apple has adopted that format as their own and I don't think its heads and tails better than a good VBR mp3 encoding. They push their format because they can get a bigger piece of the pie with every song sold. Ideally (for Apple) their AAC would take over mp3 as the most popular and dominant format, similar to what Microsoft wants with WMA.

If we were lucky, open source formats (such as ogg vorbis) would take over.


RE: What?
By plinden on 5/30/2007 2:09:18 PM , Rating: 1
I suggest you do some reading about AAC ( Advanced Audio Coding, not Apple Audio Coding).

It's a MPEG standard, and is license-free (ie. no one pays anyone else, certainly not Apple, to distribute AAC content) unlike either MP3 or WMA.


RE: What?
By chucky2 on 5/30/2007 2:22:15 PM , Rating: 2
There's already a way around Apple's DRM, and has been for a while. JHymn, then once iTunes 6.x.x.x came out and JHymn broke, QTFairUse6 and myFairTunes 6 came out and did the same thing...although you still need JHymn to do the conversion.

I don't remember what bitrate the DRM'd AAC is, but if this non-DRM AAC is 256 and the DRM'd is less, that may be worth the .30c USD extra right there to have higher quality source before conversion.

They sound fine and all on an MP3 player, but try playing those on high dollar audio systems...the lack of true quality can be heard.

Chuck


RE: What?
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 2:53:12 PM , Rating: 4
AAC was developed by Dolby Labs and is licensed by them through their subsidiary, Via Licensing. It is NOT free.

http://www.vialicensing.com/licensing/MPEG4_fees.c...

Everyone who uses AAC pays a royalty to Dolby/Via.


RE: What?
By plinden on 5/30/2007 6:31:07 PM , Rating: 2
See FAQ question #6 - http://www.vialicensing.com/Licensing/MPEG4_FAQ.cf...

You must pay a license fee if you develop and sell an encoder or decoder. There no license fee for distribution of AAC.


RE: What?
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 8:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
Right, and you need an encoder to create the files you intend to distribute.........

Unless you steal them I guess.

Or did you intend to create these AAC files with the power of positive thinking?


RE: What?
By michael2k on 5/31/2007 12:44:19 PM , Rating: 2
Apple has already paid those fees; it's why iTunes has AAC encoding built in. No stealing necessary.


RE: What?
By Jack Ripoff on 5/31/2007 12:57:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Right, and you need an encoder to create the files you intend to distribute.........

Unless you steal them I guess."

You need an encoder, but that doesn't mean you have to develop one. FAAC is a good, free AAC encoder.

http://www.audiocoding.com/

quote:
"Or did you intend to create these AAC files with the power of positive thinking?"

Well, you can code these files by-hand if you like ;)


RE: What?
By plinden on 5/31/2007 3:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Or did you intend to create these AAC files with the power of positive thinking?


That's funny. As far as I know, I'm not creating any AAC files. Apple's paying that for providing us with iTunes (and in case you didn't notice, iTunes is a free download).

You don't pay any fee for using AAC files, and Apple doesn't pay anything for distributing them. I can download the source code for an encoder/decoder (linked elsewhere here), build it on my own Linux box, and not owe any fees. If I were a half decent musician, I could record, encode and distribute my music as AAC and not owe a penny to Dolby/Via, and especially not Apple, since Apple has zero rights to any fee from AAC.

That's not to say that Apple doesn't recoup the license fee it pays for its encoder and decoder by adding a small amount into the price of a track, but neither Apple nor Dolby/Via get anything for any particular AAC song sold.

By the way, this whole subthread was started because you didn't read my post properly. I said "no one pays anyone else, certainly not Apple, to distribute AAC content" and suddenly you're talking about professional AAC encoding ... sure, I could have qualified my post by talking about fees for development of encoders and decoders but I thought content of the original was clear enough.


RE: What?
By Jack Ripoff on 5/31/2007 12:38:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"I agree - I also think they should be offered as MP3, since that is the format with the broadest compatibility across devices. AAC may or may not be technically superior, but MP3 is the only format supported by all devices."

It can be easily converted thou.

quote:
"Apple likes to start with something bad, and gradually make it better and better so that people think they are heroes, e.g., for finally "rescuing" the consumer from DRM. LOL."

Apple is not the only one however. What about Microsoft Windows not having memory protection up until 2001 with Windows XP? Yes, I know Windows NT and 2000 were already in the market way before Windows XP and had memory protection, but they weren't marketed at the home user and software compatibility was less-than-perfect. The common user compares Windows XP to Windows ME and think Microsoft's a hero for finally "rescuing" the consumer from instability. LOL!

PS: Memory protection has been available on x86 systems since the 386, which was launched on 1986, only 9 years before Windows 95.


RE: What?
By FoxFour on 6/1/2007 1:49:24 AM , Rating: 2
I submit that WAV is supported by every device that supports MP3, and then some. ;P

I'll never pay for music in a non-lossless format. I'd be willing to pay USD $1.29 per song in FLAC (and assume the responsibility of decompressing it to WAV for incompatible devices), but never for a lossy format.


RE: What?
By michael2k on 5/30/2007 12:30:25 PM , Rating: 3
Isn't it a milestone though? According to Webster’s, a milestone, when used figuratively, is a significant event in history.

Before now you had the choice of:
1) CDs
2) DRMed 128kbit@0.99
3) P2P

Now we have a fourth choice:
4) no DRM 256kbit@1.29

I mean, consumers can want something forever but it isn't actually important until it happens right? So when someone figures out how to make gold, that too is a milestone.

BTW, the extra 30% is for the double in bit rate PLUS the DRM free.


RE: What?
By VooDooAddict on 5/30/2007 12:47:19 PM , Rating: 2
2.5) Subscription DRM. $10-$15/month for unlimited.

For me 1 + 2.5 + 3 is the ideal.

2.5 to try out all kinds of new music for around the cost of a CD a month. 1 to buy the albums I really like and rip them for any use. 3 for impossible to find imports/fan made materials.


RE: What?
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 5/30/2007 1:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
Beatport, which I've been using for years, sells DRM-free independent labels for $1.29 to $1.99. The music selection is smaller, but you can get FLAC, WAV, whatever.


RE: What?
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/07, Rating: 0
RE: What?
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 3:02:43 PM , Rating: 3
You lose quality when you convert.


RE: What?
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2007 8:36:52 PM , Rating: 3
That's true.

I wonder why my posting got point-hit though, I don't think I said anything controversial or anything that isn't factually correct (note that the "AAC best" comment was qualified with that being to my knowledge, and that's factually correct whether it really is best or not).


RE: What?
By noirsoft on 5/30/2007 4:41:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
AAC is an open non-Apple format. It's just the highest quality one can get for a given bandwidth ("by far", I understand)


Does anyone have links to evidence to back this up? The info that I have seen as well as my subjective experience say that AAC is roughly equivalent to WMA at all bitrates, with WMA being reported as better (but not significantly so)


RE: What?
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2007 8:50:16 PM , Rating: 2
That may be true. I haven't personally had anything that plays WMA (anything portable I mean). In any case, both are probably a lot better than MP3 which is most common (for the same filesizes). And as many have mentioned, AAC isn't an apple format, only AAC-DRM is. I only know what I read, and those I read may be "full of it". :-)


RE: What?
By noirsoft on 5/30/2007 11:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I haven't personally had anything that plays WMA (anything portable I mean).


I guess you've only owned iPods? as far as I know, every other portable player plays WMA, even if only unprotected WMA. Heck, my car stereo plays WMA off a CD or USB flash drive, just not subscription content.

(below not addressed to you personally)

AAC may have more market share in terms of total number of players in the wild, but WMA is far more standard in terms of number of manufacturers and on-line stores that support the format.

Does AAC protection support subscription-style content? I really see that as the future of legal on-line distribution more than proteced purchased or even DRM-free purchased tracks.


RE: What?
By Oregonian2 on 5/31/2007 5:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I guess you've only owned iPods? as far as I know, every other portable player plays WMA, even if only unprotected WMA. Heck, my car stereo plays WMA off a CD or USB flash drive, just not subscription content.


I've had two. One was really old and low end and all I recall working on it was MP3's, but I can't say I remember it not having WMA so you might have me there. My other one was the 5G 60Gb iPod (bought one for me, one for wife just before a vacation trip where air trip was 14 hours in each direction). Mine disappeared before my return. My car's CD player only plays CDs, not even MP3s on it (my wife has a new one that plays everything though).

Just got a new cell phone this week (KRZR K1). Probably plays WMA, didn't check -- but remember that it plays both MP3 and AAC formats. Has only 2G of storage (with Micro SD card). My previous cell phone could only do talking. Radical.


RE: What?
By Oregonian2 on 6/1/2007 7:51:40 PM , Rating: 2
Checked it. Motorola KRZR plays MP3, AAC, AAC+, AAC "enhanced". Doesn't play WMA.


RE: What?
By jido on 5/31/2007 9:36:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
by noirsoft on May 30, 2007 at 4:41 PM

quote:

AAC is an open non-Apple format. It's just the highest quality one can get for a given bandwidth ("by far", I understand)


Does anyone have links to evidence to back this up? The info that I have seen as well as my subjective experience say that AAC is roughly equivalent to WMA at all bitrates, with WMA being reported as better (but not significantly so)

WMA Pro is equivalent in quality to AAC, but it is not compatible with hardware music players. WMA is actually worse than MP3 generally.
http://www.rjamorim.com/test/multiformat128/result...
http://www.listening-tests.info/mf-128-1/results.h...


RE: What?
By Scorpion on 5/30/2007 3:23:41 PM , Rating: 2
You get a cookie from me for mentioning Beatport. ;) Of course I do believe I read somewhere that you enjoy listening to EDM, so, naturally you would probably use Beatport. :)

It is funny to see this "milestone" coming to the mainstream, since I've been enjoying DRM free music for many years now from non-iTunes vendors. One reason why I never bought into the iPod + iTunes idea.


RE: What?
By jtesoro on 5/31/2007 11:12:46 AM , Rating: 2
I still think what Apple did is a milestone, because it sells the music that the masses want. We can "thank" the money the big labels are spending for that. Indie label music, while it can have good quality titles, tends to address niche markets (in the long tail).


RE: What?
By EarthsDM on 5/30/2007 12:34:29 PM , Rating: 5
Just because Yahoo offered some music DRM-free at $2 a pop? This is a milestone because THE major player in the online music business is now offering DRM-free tracks.


RE: What?
By Lonyo on 5/30/2007 1:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
Other indie labels have been offering DRM free music for ages.
Nettwerk offer a choice between DRM free mp3's or DRM free .flac files (at an increased cost over mp3).
Manowar have been offering their own stuff for download from their own website for a while in mp3 format.

A milestone would be better priced tracks in a more open format. This is nothing more than a small stepping stone.


RE: What?
By incompleteunit on 5/30/2007 1:12:36 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Not only because it's the major player in online purchasing, but because it's one of the biggest distributors as well. It's great that indie labels have already been doing it, but this could push the big distributors to do it as well.


RE: What?
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2007 2:10:02 PM , Rating: 2
1. Who are those others who (legally) sell non-DRM downloadable music from one of the major companies (EMI, Sony, etc)? Who else now sells the same downloadable EMI tunes? Give me URLs please, although you imply there are many, just one will do.

2. Once they all are converted to non-DRM $1.29 pricing, then non-DRM will be indeed standard, just as you ask for. It's just that now they offer a 23% discount for DRM'd versions.

You may argue that they're too expensive. I agree, I even thought that true with LP's in the 70's.


Awesome
By DEredita on 5/30/2007 12:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
It's about time. I just downloaded iTunes, and going to browse their library. Thinking of which, I could use some new tunes on my Creative Zen MP3 player.




RE: Awesome
By DEredita on 5/30/2007 12:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
Nevermind - I am hating the iTunes environment.

btw... I am a Mac/PC user. I'll look for something else for buying/downloading music. The iTunes player is nice on my Mac, but I completely hate the store.


RE: Awesome
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 1:11:55 PM , Rating: 1
Too bad they won't work on your Zen, they are still in iPod format (AAC).

I thought they were going to use MP3. Oh well back to Amazon.


RE: Awesome
By Martimus on 5/30/2007 1:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
Can't you convert it to MP3 if it is DRM free?


RE: Awesome
By chucky2 on 5/30/2007 2:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, just find JHymn, and either QTFairUse6 or myFairUse6 on the net and enjoy...


RE: Awesome
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2007 2:23:28 PM , Rating: 2
Of course.


RE: Awesome
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 5/30/2007 2:25:05 PM , Rating: 2
You could convert it to MP3 even if it was DRM'd. You would just need some knowhow. As it stands, its cake to covert AAC to MP3 or WMV.


RE: Awesome
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 2:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder about the audio quality converting from one lossless format to another. Seems like in the end, the file would have quality loss due to the combination of both formats.


RE: Awesome
By Martimus on 5/30/2007 5:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
If they were both lossless there shouldn't be any degredation of quality, but I know that MP3 compression is not lossless. I don't know much about the other compression.

I just remember that there is an option in iTunes to convert the format to MP3 as long as it isn't DRM protected. That was what I was getting at. It is already built into the program, so you won't need to use any other converting program.


RE: Awesome
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 6:18:11 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt the AAC's being sold by iTunes are lossless.


RE: Awesome
By Jack Ripoff on 5/31/2007 12:43:21 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't. Lossless would be huge to download.


RE: Awesome
By hubajube on 5/30/2007 2:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Can't you convert it to MP3 if it is DRM free?
Yes you can. There's already software out there that does this.


RE: Awesome
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 3:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
You lose quality if you convert though.


RE: Awesome
By Vanilla Thunder on 5/30/2007 3:04:05 PM , Rating: 2
AAC is NOT iPod format. It is not "owned" by Apple and they make no money from it. BTW, it's far superior to MP3.

Vanilla


RE: Awesome
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 3:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
AAC is owned and licensed by Dolby.

It's superior at lower bit-rates, this is true, however I personally find the differences vanish very quickly when you go over 200kbps. This is just from personal listening tests with a variety of equipment; those horrible iPod ear-buds, GOOD headphones, a decent PC surround-sound system (worth about $1200) and a high-quality home theater sound system (worth over $5000). Again, personally, I feel that there is very little difference between AAC at 192+ and a good MP3 VBR encode at 192+. At 320 kpbs (what I rip all my tunes at) both are so close to transparent it's not worth talking about.

I'd rather have the convienence and flexibility of the open MP3 format.


RE: Awesome
By michael2k on 5/30/2007 3:35:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why is MP3 open but MP4-AAC is not?

You keep mentioning that AAC isn't open... but it is as open as MP3 is.


RE: Awesome
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 4:05:30 PM , Rating: 2
The benefit of MP3 is that all devices support it - not just PMPs, but also home and car audio systems as well.


RE: Awesome
By Jack Ripoff on 5/31/2007 12:41:55 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Awesome
By Rollomite on 5/30/2007 3:37:24 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you 100%. But as you stated, at lower bit rates, the AAC does have superior sound. I just think that it's more beneficial for people using flash based players, and only have 8 gigs to play with. Then you can use the lower bit rate, squeeze in some more tunes, and retain more of the sound quality with AAC.

Vanilla


RE: Awesome
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 4:16:59 PM , Rating: 2
Considering the cost of memory and the PMP devices, there is no reason to use low-bitrate anything any more. I mean, how many songs would 4 or 8GB of flash hold at 320KB/s MP3 VBR? If you figure an average of 8MB/song (conservative estimate), that works out to 500 songs for 4GB, or 1K songs for 8GB.


RE: Awesome
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 6:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
My 4G nano has 612 songs (or about 47 hours).

The battery lasts 8-9 hours under good conditions...


No thanks.
By redbone75 on 5/30/2007 12:34:47 PM , Rating: 3
I knew that's why Apple was pushing so hard for DRM free tracks. It's because in one of their thinking sessions they thought of a way to get even more money out of their customers. "How can we charge our customers again for music they already paid for?" I don't think most people that use iTunes and iPods would even care at this point. Most people would still want to buy the lower cost music anyway, imo.

On the other hand, I think this the way Apple got around their pledge of keeping music at $.99. I know the recording industry and been trying to pressure them to raise prices, but I guess Apple told them they would have to give something more in order to get the price increase.




RE: No thanks.
By Etsp on 5/30/2007 12:53:00 PM , Rating: 3
I get the feeling it's that EMI is charging apple more per song if it's free of DRM, and with the way the RIAA has been the past few years, I think that it is extremely likely to be the case. Apple Recognized the outcry from users wanting to download DRM free music, and also wanted to stand by their $.99 per song stance, but if EMI is charging apple $1.05 per song downloaded... that simply isn't feasible.


RE: No thanks.
By AmbroseAthan on 5/30/2007 1:21:59 PM , Rating: 2
If you look into the financials of Apple, the ITunes store doesn't make a large profit for Apple compared to their other venues. I don't think it is even more then a few cents per song. AppleInsider places it at almost 10 cents per song, which I feel is a bit high; the analyst keeps assuming few people work at ITunes, and random other variables he prefers to low-ball. http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/07/04/23/itun...

Anyways though, I just upgraded 25 songs for $6, most came from two albums (30 Second to Mars and MassiveAttack). I did this during lunch so only got a short time to play, but the 30 Seconds to Mars tracks sounded much cleaner/fuller then their 128 cousins (I kept both on my computer to compare); it was a noticable difference through my system. I doubt I will hear a huge difference in my headphones w/ Nano, but through the computer (XiFi-Music and a 400 watt system) it is a definite improvement. ITunes Plus purchases and upgrades are definitely my preference from here on out with ITunes.


RE: No thanks.
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 1:35:55 PM , Rating: 3
Didn't they just say they sold 2 billion songs on Itunes last year?

Even at 10 cents per (seems low) that's still 200 million bucks pal...

Even more important though, since it locks people into AAC format (even without DRM, AAC only plays on Ipods, Zunes (lol all 6 of them), and a handful of Sony players), it sells even more IPODS!


RE: No thanks.
By AmbroseAthan on 5/30/2007 1:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
ITunes exist to sell IPods; IPods exist to sell Apple as a whole. IPods are one of the best marketing tools we will ever see pushed out; and yes, ITunes locks you into AAC/IPods, this is the entire marketing strategy.

As to the 2 billions songs, that is since ITunes bagain in April of '03 till Jan. of '07; so it took nearly 4 years to reach 2 billion (with accelerated growth towards the end).

Q1 of 2007:
quote:
January 17, 2007—Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2007 first quarter ended December 30, 2006. The Company posted record revenue of $7.1 billion and record net quarterly profit of $1.0 billion, or $1.14 per diluted share
http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2007/01/17results....

Q2 of 2007:
quote:
pril 25, 2007—Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2007 second quarter ended March 31, 2007. The Company posted revenue of $5.26 billion and net quarterly profit of $770 million, or $.87 per diluted share.


So lets say they sold almost 750 million songs last year (due to accelerated growth, just a shot in the dark estimate); divide by 4 for one quarter, ~187 million, down to $18.7 million in profit for the quarter estimated based on 10 cents per song. $18.7 Million is a drop in the bucket for Apple compared to a ~$885 million profit in a quarter (average of the first two).

Yes, ITunes is profitable; but it is merely a marketing tool which happens to make trump change on the side.


RE: No thanks.
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 3:01:56 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently you didn't RTFA.

"Applying that estimate to the $1.2 billion in revenue that iTunes is expected to generation in fiscal 2007, he believes the service will generate $0.09 to $0.14 in earnings-per-share for Apple."

1.2 billion THIS YEAR. If we assume each song is 99 cents, that's roughly... (gets out abacus, slide rule, and protractor...) 1.2 billion songs sold this year alone.

So that's $168 million IN PROFIT if they estimate 9-14% profit margin (again, sounds very low, they estimated 10% in credit card fees... say what jack? I can open an account with several banks right now that only charge 2%.. how did Apple get such a lousy deal?).

That's before the "subscription model" they plan to add which they estimate could add another 900 million in revenue.


RE: No thanks.
By AmbroseAthan on 5/30/2007 3:33:24 PM , Rating: 2
Being you demand we use your math and not look at what I showed, nor even argue my point, I'll use your math, okay? (I also read the article, and both quartly statements w/ press releases; and as stated before, I feel the analyst over estimated).

$168 million in the year, $42 million in the quarter.

Once again, it is trump change , as previously stated, compared to Apple's profit streams which have averaged $885 million the first two quarters (less then 5%). ITunes is a marketing scheme, not a profit center for Apple; its returns are the marketing and tie-ins with IPod/Apple. Yes, Apple wants to make money off of it, but the primary return Apple cares about is the marketing/brand loyalty.

Also, the credit card fees are not your APR fees like you as an individual would get. Apple, and any other company, is slammed with a percentage fee per transaction. Hence the reason why the analyst says Apple has wisened up to combine purchases so the fees are not as bad. The fees tend to be higher percentages on smaller transactions, this is why historically you would see many retail spaces with minimums for credit cards.


RE: No thanks.
By walk2k on 5/31/2007 1:15:12 PM , Rating: 2
It might be just " change " for Donald Trump , but it's a pretty healthy profit for what is basically a web site (albiet a pretty slick one) that serves data over the internet.

I'd wager it's THE most profitable web page that does nothing but serve data. In fact, outside of porn sites, it's probably the ONLY such web page that turns any profit at all!


RE: No thanks.
By michael2k on 5/31/2007 2:00:02 PM , Rating: 2
You forget Google.com


RE: No thanks.
By plinden on 5/30/2007 1:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
What's to stop Creative, SanDisk etc adding AAC support to their players? Why haven't they done so already? And what's to stop people converting DRM-free AAC to MP3 to play on non-AAC players? (Type "aac to mp3 converter" in google)


RE: No thanks.
By michael2k on 5/30/2007 2:18:30 PM , Rating: 2
Or, you know, use iTunes to convert to MP3 since you need to have iTunes to buy these songs in the first place.


RE: No thanks.
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2007 2:22:04 PM , Rating: 2
I think some of the others (other than Zune) do support AAC.


RE: No thanks.
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 3:03:37 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing stopping Creative unless they just don't want to pay the licensing royalties.

Also you CAN convert but you lose quality.


RE: No thanks.
By jido on 5/31/2007 9:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I knew that's why Apple was pushing so hard for DRM free tracks. It's because in one of their thinking sessions they thought of a way to get even more money out of their customers. "How can we charge our customers again for music they already paid for?"

If you are buying a DRM-free track that you already bought from iTunes, you only have to pay the difference (¢30). While Apple has to cover the extra infrastructure cost so you can download the heavier file. Does not sound like extorsion to me.


It's effing amazing to me....
By Vanilla Thunder on 5/30/2007 2:56:35 PM , Rating: 2
That after all the complaints about DRMs, Apple does something about it. They finally give the consumer what they are asking for, and still all of you "Apple Bashers" out there want to talk shit about the format, or the price, or the fact that indy distributors have been doing it for so many years. SO WHAT. This is an in-road to DRM free music on a much larger scale. Other distributors will have to follow suit. And with Apple's price being lower than the average $2 that most sites charge, it will drive the prices of the DRM free tracks down elsewhere. Use your head, and try not to jump on the "I hate Apple" bandwagon so quickly. This is a good thing.

Vanilla




RE: It's effing amazing to me....
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 4:11:03 PM , Rating: 2
The reason to complain about Apple is they always do the wrong thing. First, with DRM, and now, with the wrong file format. Clearly Jobs knows the right thing to do - he just wants to string the customers along - and they also hope that by changing file formats every couple of years, then some customers will buy the same songs again in the new format.

After all, consolidation onto a single file format is of no benefit to the sellers. It is much better for them to have a number of formats that need to be supported, over time.

If Jobs truly "cared" about the customers as he seems to claim, he would have done the right thing in the first place. After all, why is DRM-free content commercially viable today, compared to a couple years ago? What exactly has changed? Nothing.


RE: It's effing amazing to me....
By michael2k on 5/30/2007 5:51:10 PM , Rating: 2
Silly, you ask what's changed?

1) 100m iPods have been sold, so there is a huge installed base of receptive customers
2) 2.5b iTunes songs have been sold, so there is a huge installed base of iTunes clients and existing customers

Regarding format; you champion MP3, do you also want everyone to stick to DVD instead of HD? MP3 is 10 year old technology. AAC is able to obtain higher quality at lower bitrates... important when distributing over the internet.


RE: It's effing amazing to me....
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 6:21:06 PM , Rating: 2
My point is that nothing's changed with respect to DRM. I don't see how number of iPods and/or iTunes songs being sold has any relevance. People can "casually copy" or otherwise share music files just as easily as they could 3 years ago.


RE: It's effing amazing to me....
By michael2k on 5/30/2007 6:38:27 PM , Rating: 4
Yet you did ask "Why is DRM content commercially viable today..."?

Because Apple has sold enough tracks to show that it is commercially viable to sell music.

In turn that has created the number one online retailer, enough so that they have the leverage to negotiate DRM free.

Who, three years ago, had the ability to do that?

Again, the number of iPods and iTunes accounts is directly responsible for giving Apple the ability to negotiate DRM free from EMI.


RE: It's effing amazing to me....
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 8:56:39 PM , Rating: 2
Good point - you're probably right about that.


By Vanilla Thunder on 5/31/2007 10:23:48 AM , Rating: 2
Well put.

Vanilla


By SmokeRngs on 6/1/2007 3:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
MP3 is 10 year old technology.


Actually, you are incorrect here. Mp3 has been around a lot longer than ten years. It wasn't until the release of Pentium processor performance for x86 that mp3 became popular. Prior to the release of the Pentium, x86 class processors did not really have the horsepower to decode mp3 in real time. Yes, some 486's could do this, but it was only some of the higher end ones and you would get skipping more often than with a Pentium class processor.


By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2007 8:55:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
why is DRM-free content commercially viable today, compared to a couple years ago? What exactly has changed? Nothing.


Huh? Something monumental, something huge has changed! EMI was willing to sell their stuff w/o DRM. That's huge. And among the majors they still are the ONLY one.

If apple decided to sell all their tunes w/o DRM, they'd be sued into bankruptcy in no time in a court case that'd take no time at all it'd be so clearcut. They can't "just do it", no matter what Nike might suggest.


Why so expensive per song?
By shadow300z on 5/30/2007 2:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
I always thought .99 was too expensive per song, and the reason being is if I were to go buy a CD(with inserts, extras, dvd, packaging, retail shelf space, shipping, whatever else) with say 14 tracks on it, I could get it for probably a comparable price.

Why aren't the savings passed on to the consumer, there's almost no overhead needed for these and yet we are still paying $1 per song.




RE: Why so expensive per song?
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2007 2:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
You don't think Apple has any expenses in selling you songs? How much do you pay for DSL per month? Imagine 10,000 times that (or more). Not to speak of the stuff those pipes connect to. Think they might have an IT center associated with it? How about a large crew of lawyers for all of their negotiations and lawsuits against them (don't think that we don't pay for all the lawsuits against them!). All those nice Apple showtime events in the Moscone center (or whatever) the tremendous bills for those weren't given by the Gates foundation. Oh, companies like EMI, the artists, etc might want some money too. They've got to pay their lawyers as well.

P.S. - To mention a long ago thread, they also have to have one of these iTune stores for each country in the EU (recall that the EU was getting them for doing that even though their music company "suppliers" required it of them contractually). The total numbers thrown around would be global. Japan probably doesn't use the same iTune store as the U.S. does either. So they've probably server centers all over the world along with each one's staff and bills that run the place and lawyers for each country, etc. Somebody has to pay for all of that. I recall reports that they don't make much on their iTunes store, it's mostly a reason for people to buy iPods which is where they make the big bucks.


RE: Why so expensive per song?
By BMFPitt on 5/30/2007 3:22:33 PM , Rating: 2
Unless you think Apple's data center is more expensive than a chain of B&M stores that have to be shipped physical products, I don't see your point. Having separate "stores" for every EU country costs then tens of man-hours and multiple watts of electricity I'm sure, but is certaily cheaper than actually opening stores there.

9.99 an album is a discount over CDs.
0.99/1.29 a song is a markup for not buying filler tracks.
Since I find physical CDs more of a hindrance than a benefit, I see it as a good deal (at least relative to CDs.)


RE: Why so expensive per song?
By shadow300z on 5/30/2007 4:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
I see what you are saying, but I mean I can get a CD without DRM on it and convert it to any file type I want, put it on any number of devices, etc. If you want to you can throw away the cd and stuff when you are done and still save money.

I understand apple has costs associated with this, but it seems to my relatively untrained eye that prices are still comparable to cd's, and if this is the case what's the point? Markup for filler tracks seems like a pretty lame idea on their(apple/record companies) parts to me.


RE: Why so expensive per song?
By hubajube on 5/30/2007 6:33:01 PM , Rating: 2
I save even more money by NOT buying a whole CD. I usually buy anywhere from one to three songs from a CD. That's it. And if I want the whole album then I MIGHT buy the CD IF it's the same price or cheaper than the iTunes version AND I just happen to be at the store to get something else. I don't make special trips for music. It's a waste of gas and time. I can download a song at anytime even at work. $3 vs $10. Hmmmmm. Even at $3.87 for the non-DRM versions, it's STILL cheaper than buying the CD.


RE: Why so expensive per song?
By NotAok on 5/31/2007 8:50:33 AM , Rating: 2
Ebay ftw... Save money and get the most out of your music. I've purchased many cd's on ebay and paid like 1/4 of the price.


RE: Why so expensive per song?
By Oregonian2 on 5/30/2007 8:45:08 PM , Rating: 2
Of course a major pure play in music stores, Tower Records, went bankrupt trying to sell in stores. Not sure if that's a shining example for low cost delivery of goods. Stores that sell music in addition to other things makes it hard to tell how well their music sales are going.

In any case, financial reports that apple puts out say (to my recollection) that they don't make much profit from iTune sales.
How does one explain that if they're making too high of a margin on their sales?


RE: Why so expensive per song?
By mindless1 on 5/30/2007 5:51:37 PM , Rating: 2
Another opinion - the price is too high, I don't volunteer to pay more for a product to support populating the earth with stores or any of their other overheads. In the end it's the same situation as any other reseller, any other product. Some will feel the price is too high and they either lower that price or lose the sale.

No, somebody doesn't have to pay for all that. It could be avoided by cutting out the fat.


I don't know what's worse...
By VIAN on 5/30/2007 4:34:55 PM , Rating: 3
Guess what? No DRM; but they embed your account information onto the track. This is no milestone. It's like you're paying 30% more for compatibility.

http://www.tuaw.com/2007/05/30/tuaw-tip-dont-torre...

I still wouldn't buy it. I'd rather buy an real CD.




RE: I don't know what's worse...
By TomZ on 5/30/2007 5:08:12 PM , Rating: 3
^-- the real reason Apple uses AAC instead of MP3


RE: I don't know what's worse...
By hubajube on 5/30/07, Rating: 0
RE: I don't know what's worse...
By walk2k on 5/30/2007 7:41:09 PM , Rating: 2
Which will degrade the sound quality of the product which you are now paying MORE for. Great idea.


RE: I don't know what's worse...
By spwatkins on 5/31/2007 11:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
Embedding the owner's name in the track allows the Fair Use applications that people *claim* they want to have while providing tracebility for the illegal sharing that people *claim* they are not interested in.
Also, you're paying 30% more for an open format with *twice* the bitrate.


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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