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Apple considering premium for unlimited iPhone, iPod music

post #1 of 43
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A longtime opponent of subscription music services, Apple is reportedly exploring the possibility of charging extra for iPhones and iPods in exchange for unlimited iTunes Store access.

Allegedly tipped off by senior officials close to the matter, the Financial Times suggests that Apple is in talks with music labels to follow an approach first pioneered by Nokia and Universal Music Group.

Dubbed Comes With Music, the upcoming service has customers pay more for a cellphone in return for as many a la carte music downloads as the customer likes over the course of a year. In this implementation, customers can either renew a subscription once it expires or else keep the tracks they've downloaded, even if they switch to competing phones or music services.

This would eliminate common reservations about subscription services whose copy protection automatically invalidates downloaded tracks as soon as the subscription ends. Apple chief Steve Jobs famously attacked this latter concept as "renting music" upon introducing the iTunes Music Store in 2003.

Apple is said to be entertaining the notion of a similar plan to spur sales for iPhones and iPods. However, the electronics giant is claimed by a pair of executives to have hit a roadblock through its early insistence on low prices. While Nokia already plans to charge $80 for its year-long music giveaway, its newest opponent in the cellphone market is only willing to offer $20 at present -- a gap that may result in no deal at all if no labels agree to the strategy.

"Its who blinks first," says one of the claimed sources, "and whether or not anyone does blink."

Apple may nonetheless be willing to budge. Studies purportedly conducted about the subject have shown that many would be willing to spend $100 for unlimited access throughout the device's entire useful lifespan. Whether these studies were conducted by Apple or music industry analysts is unknown.

More surprising still are assertions that Apple is willing to consider a conventional subscription model with a monthly fee, though the details of any proposals are unclear. The Times claims that such a service would require an iPhone due to the monthly billing structure and that most industry discussions revolve around unlimited access to songs with permanent downloads for 40-50 of those songs.

The same research conducted for a Comes With Music-style premium also suggests that customers would be willing to pay between $7 and $8 per month for a subscription.

Apple has declined comment on the report.
post #2 of 43
I don't want an added cost on my iPod for a service I'm not going to use.

It would be better to leave this option separate.
post #3 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mciarlo View Post

I don't want an added cost on my iPod for a service I'm not going to use.

It would be better to leave this option separate.

It would be an option.

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post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Dubbed Comes With Music, the upcoming service has customers pay more for a cellphone in return for as many a la carte music downloads as the customer likes over the course of a year. In this implementation, customers can either renew a subscription once it expires or else keep the tracks they've downloaded, even if they switch to competing phones or music services.

I'm confused. Surely you can't keep all the tracks you've downloaded? Otherwise you could download and keep tens of thousands of tracks for only $100 or whatever this premium charge is going to be. That doesn't make sense.
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post #5 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

I'm confused. Surely you can't keep all the tracks you've downloaded? Otherwise you could download and keep tens of thousands of tracks for only $100 or whatever this premium charge is going to be. That doesn't make sense.

10,000/$100=$1, so I don't think they'd have too much problem with that. I suspect they won't let you download unlimited numbers to your computer, just to your phone and its limited capacity will limit these problems.
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

I'm confused. Surely you can't keep all the tracks you've downloaded? Otherwise you could download and keep tens of thousands of tracks for only $100 or whatever this premium charge is going to be. That doesn't make sense.

It appears AI has the wording wrong. I believe they mean customers can ONLY keep the songs if they subscribe through another service or buy a device with the subscription option added on.
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

10,000/$100=$1

Either I don't understand what you're getting at, or something's gone wrong with your maths.

10,000 songs at $1 each is $10,000 not $100.
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post #8 of 43
But then at the end of the article it refers to "permanent downloads for 40-50 of those songs."

I don't understand it.
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ronn View Post

It appears AI has the wording wrong. I believe they mean customers can ONLY keep the songs if they subscribe through another service or buy a device with the subscription option added on.

I see. I was wondering about this.

So it'll be (if it even comes to exist) a "portable/transferable" music-rental service?
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post #10 of 43
Frankly, for all the bad-mouthing Steve has done about rentals, I can't picture him allowing this anytime soon.
post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

I'm confused. Surely you can't keep all the tracks you've downloaded? Otherwise you could download and keep tens of thousands of tracks for only $100 or whatever this premium charge is going to be. That doesn't make sense.

I think Booga might be right*. It might be an option that ONLY utilizes the iTunes WiFi Store and no way to copy the songs back to your computer or move it to another device.

Or, you might be able to move the 'premium" service audio to another Apple PMP similar to the way you can move a rented iTunes movie from device to another.

Still, if you can keep moving it from Apple PMP to Apple PMP that supports the Apple WiFi Store you wouldn't need to buy it again so there seems to be some info that we are not getting in this article. Luckily there are plenty of clever on this board to help work it out.

* Though his math is off
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post #12 of 43
You misjudge the Zen of Steve, my friend. The past is nothing - there is only the present.

I think subscriptions are a great option, actually. Apple has long resisted them, I think, partly due to consumer wariness and partly to maintain Apple's (modest) FairPlay lock-in, but now that iPod + iTunes have firmly established itself as an industry giant, they have consideably more leeway. Offering DRM'd subscriptions may be the carrot that Apple offers in exchange for finally cajoling the labels to go DRM-free -- that's an annoying thorn in Apple's side right now.

Once Apple offered movie rentals, the stage was potentially set for music as well.

That said, it could just as easily never happen.
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

10,000/$100=$1, so I don't think they'd have too much problem with that. I suspect they won't let you download unlimited numbers to your computer, just to your phone and its limited capacity will limit these problems.

?? All you do is transfer the songs from your iDevice to your computer and download another 10,000 songs. You can do this already. At the very least someone will make a utility to bypass any sort of 'download to iDevice only' limitation. If the iTunes store has some sort of iDevice recognition system someone will make a utility for those same downloads to work on a non iDevice as well. Thanks to the SDK and XCode/Tools this should be easy.
post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

?? All you do is transfer the songs from your iDevice to your computer and download another 10,000 songs. You can do this already. At the very least someone will make a utility to bypass any sort of 'download to iDevice only' limitation. If the iTunes store has some sort of iDevice recognition system someone will make a utility for those same downloads to work on a non iDevice as well. Thanks to the SDK and XCode/Tools this should be easy.

The way I interpreted the article is that the audio is tied to your device or account+device. Which would make transferring the audio impossible without hacking. While this will surely happen, I think the number of iTunes music sales show that many people aren't capable ot willing to steal their music.
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post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

Either I don't understand what you're getting at, or something's gone wrong with your maths.

10,000 songs at $1 each is $10,000 not $100.

Wishful thinking and bad math on Mr. H's post when Mr. H stated ''I'm confused. Surely you can't keep all the tracks you've downloaded? Otherwise you could download and keep tens of thousands of tracks for only $100 or whatever this premium charge is going to be. That doesn't make sense."...

That's where the "10,000 / 100 = $1.00" came into play on Booga's post

But should have stated... "100 / $100.00 = $1.00"... \

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post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

The way I interpreted the article is that the audio is tied to your device or account+device. Which would make transferring the audio impossible without hacking. While this will surely happen, I think the number of iTunes music sales show that many people aren't capable ot willing to steal their music.

Well that was also before SDK. With SDK and Tools you can emulate your iDevice on your Mac. Don't know if you've watched Steve's March 6th presentation but the iDevice is operating virtually from the Mac for code testing purposes. Someone will simply create a utility that will exploit this and therefore files could be transfered. There are other ways I can think of too that would not be hacks but more of a one-click utility.
post #17 of 43
Yeah, wow, oops. $100, $10000, what's the difference.

But still, disallowing syncing of iPhone-purchased songs back to a computer (which FairPlay can do, since they can simply not authorize any computers to play it instead of the default 5 computers) would allow them to do this. And eventually people will get bored of the music and re-subscribe. You've still got a limited capacity on the device to either keep your songs or go buy other music to fill it up with.

Apple claims the iPhone 16GB can hold 3,500 songs if filled to capacity. Lets say as a practical matter you store 2000 songs on it. Apple's risk that people might cancel and no longer want to listen to any new music is not risking all that much compared to the idea of 10,000,000 iPhones paying an extra few hundred dollars for unlimited syncing.
post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A longtime opponent of subscription music services, Apple is reportedly exploring the possibility of charging extra for iPhones and iPods in exchange for unlimited iTunes Store access.

Allegedly tipped off by senior officials close to the matter, the Financial Times suggests that Apple is in talks with music labels to follow an approach first pioneered by Nokia and Universal Music Group.

Dubbed Comes With Music, the upcoming service has customers pay more for a cellphone in return for as many a la carte music downloads as the customer likes over the course of a year. In this implementation, customers can either renew a subscription once it expires or else keep the tracks they've downloaded, even if they switch to competing phones or music services.

This would eliminate common reservations about subscription services whose copy protection automatically invalidates downloaded tracks as soon as the subscription ends. Apple chief Steve Jobs famously attacked this latter concept as "renting music" upon introducing the iTunes Music Store in 2003.

Apple is said to be entertaining the notion of a similar plan to spur sales for iPhones and iPods. However, the electronics giant is claimed by a pair of executives to have hit a roadblock through its early insistence on low prices. While Nokia already plans to charge $80 for its year-long music giveaway, its newest opponent in the cellphone market is only willing to offer $20 at present -- a gap that may result in no deal at all if no labels agree to the strategy.

"Its who blinks first," says one of the claimed sources, "and whether or not anyone does blink."

Apple may nonetheless be willing to budge. Studies purportedly conducted about the subject have shown that many would be willing to spend $100 for unlimited access throughout the device's entire useful lifespan. Whether these studies were conducted by Apple or music industry analysts is unknown.

More surprising still are assertions that Apple is willing to consider a conventional subscription model with a monthly fee, though the details of any proposals are unclear. The Times claims that such a service would require an iPhone due to the monthly billing structure and that most industry discussions revolve around unlimited access to songs with permanent downloads for 40-50 of those songs.

The same research conducted for a Comes With Music-style premium also suggests that customers would be willing to pay between $7 and $8 per month for a subscription.

Apple has declined comment on the report.


What a bunch of BS.
You guys really bought this fud?
post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

10,000/$100=$1, so I don't think they'd have too much problem with that. I suspect they won't let you download unlimited numbers to your computer, just to your phone and its limited capacity will limit these problems.

But you CAN upload songs purchased on your iPhone/touch to your computer.
There's something missing or wrong on this story.
Doesn't appeal to me in any event.
post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlake View Post

Frankly, for all the bad-mouthing Steve has done about rentals, I can't picture him allowing this anytime soon.

Steve's bad mouthing of rentals makes it even MORE likely that he'll do it.
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlake View Post

Frankly, for all the bad-mouthing Steve has done about rentals, I can't picture him allowing this anytime soon.

On the contrary! you have not been paying attention, grasshopper...

When our dear leader slammed the idea of music subscriptions, my first thought was: hhmm... interesting... and ran it through my patented reality-distorto-transmogro-meter.

the results lead me to the conclusion that it must be in the works. with the monthly revenue stream coming in from the iphone activations, i think that a newtonesque lightbulb lit up at apple. if the low numbers of itunes track sales per ipod are any indication, it makes much more sense for the mothership to suck monthly payments out of us instead/on top of it.

I'm also sure there will be a seductively convenient 'buy now - new, improved, DRM free!' button while the rentals are playing. apple has the infrastructure for rentals, so i'm sure the cost to set that up wouldn't be enormous and the DRM has to get used somewhere...

and i'm still wondering whatever happened to the data centre they bought...

now, there will be many that will say 'i'd never!' and i count myself among them, but then i've been paying for my .mac account ever since it went up... (wouldn't it be nice if the music rental service were included, i'd feel much better about paying for it)
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlake View Post

Frankly, for all the bad-mouthing Steve has done about rentals, I can't picture him allowing this anytime soon.

Yes, because he's never reversed his opinion before.
post #23 of 43
Yep. But Steve's reversed opinions come because of some basic limitation in hardware or the marketplace going away. So it's not really changing his mind as much as basing an opinion on the art of the possible at any particular moment. And the harder he pans something publicly, the more likely he has a small tiger team working on the related issues deep inside the building.
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post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


... Apple ... the electronics giant ...

i'm not sure i'll ever get used to that kind of language.
i guess a decade of reading 'beleaguered computer maker' has left its scars.
post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbrasington View Post

What a bunch of BS.
You guys really bought this fud?

I agree. This article sound like a dream a music executive had.
post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

I'm confused. Surely you can't keep all the tracks you've downloaded? Otherwise you could download and keep tens of thousands of tracks for only $100 or whatever this premium charge is going to be. That doesn't make sense.

People really miss the point when it comes to music downloads. You're thinking of music like other products, which is wrong. It doesn't matter how much music they give you - to them, a song is virtually free (just bandwidth/server costs). What matters is how much money they get out of you in the end. If they sell songs for $1, and you buy 10 in a year, they make $10. If they offer you songs for 1c, and they sell you 2000 songs, then they make $20 and have doubled their profits. How many songs they give you is completely irrelevant.

I currently spend $0 a year on music because I won't pay for anything with DRM. If they offered me unlimited music for $20, I may very well download every tune they have, but they've still won because they've made $20 where they would have made $0 before.
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

many would be willing to spend $100 for unlimited access throughout the device's entire useful lifespan.

I have a hard time believing that Jobs and Co. would go down a path that would essentially discourage people from purchasing a new ipod. If the one-time fee is tied to a single device, wouldn't people be more inclined to hold onto old iPods for longer periods of time? What about reselling? Would the rights to the music be transferable?

All in all, I don't buy this story.
post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hutcho View Post

People really miss the point when it comes to music downloads. You're thinking of music like other products, which is wrong. It doesn't matter how much music they give you - to them, a song is virtually free (just bandwidth/server costs). What matters is how much money they get out of you in the end. If they sell songs for $1, and you buy 10 in a year, they make $10. If they offer you songs for 1c, and they sell you 2000 songs, then they make $20 and have doubled their profits. How many songs they give you is completely irrelevant.

But if you're the sort of person that only buys 10 new songs a year, why would you suddenly want 1,000s of tracks? Surely you're not really that big a music fan and don't really care - in the second example you're just downloading songs for the sake of it rather than because you really want them.

Also you're missing the fact that as the article stands, it implies that you'll be able to download so many songs from the iTunes Music Store (if you've got enough HDDs) for $100 (or whatever) that it would take the entire rest of your lifetime to listen to everything you've downloaded (realistically, as opposed to if you listened 24/7 solid) so you'd never need to download anything ever again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hutcho View Post

I currently spend $0 a year on music because I won't pay for anything with DRM.

Obviously you haven't heard about iTunes+ or Amazon or Emusic or CDs or vinyl.
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post #29 of 43
My version of the perfect iPhone would be it had a built in XM receiver I could listen to when I wanted and screw all the tedious browsing/buying/renting/downloading/owning/library managing busy-work of it, plus the endless cost of paying for music that after a while I don't care that much about hearing, let alone maintaining.

Surely I'm not the only person who likes to listen to music on the go but doesn't need to own it and hear it over and over again. If I wanted to hear the same songs continuously I could listen to Top 40 FM radio. I think a library of music is fine in a controlled environment like a home, but on the street, if I'm gonna shuffle and take what comes next, I'd just as soon let somebody else introduce me to new music as well as play favorites I like. Just MHO.
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by zanshin View Post

My version of the perfect iPhone would be it had a built in XM receiver ......

Serious question: Does anyone (other than truckers) listen to XM anymore? Isn't it a dying -- if not already dead -- industry?
post #31 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tofino View Post

i'm not sure i'll ever get used to that kind of language.
i guess a decade of reading 'beleaguered computer maker' has left its scars.

I think it's better than "the Cupertino computer maker" or somesuch. But either way, I think it takes a special ed student to like it.
post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Serious question: Does anyone (other than truckers) listen to XM anymore? Isn't it a dying -- if not already dead -- industry?

Boaters.
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post #33 of 43
All in all, this is terrible news for musicians. There is absolutely no money to be made in rentals or subscriptions.

And no, I don't mean the less than 5% who make multi-millions, I mean the other 95% who are struggling to get by trying to make a living.
post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Serious question: Does anyone (other than truckers) listen to XM anymore? Isn't it a dying -- if not already dead -- industry?

It's popular in the Caribbean, even if it's technically out of range. I think it's because there aren't a whole lot of radio stations available.
post #35 of 43
I don't care, as long as I can buy iTunes plus songs for $1 still I will be happy. I don't think I will use a service like this, but for those that would otherwise pirate I suppose it is a good option.

I much rather own my music, but I welcome more choices.
post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tofino View Post

... and ran it through my patented reality-distorto-transmogro-meter.

Can you make an iPhone App for this? I would use it! Is it like a Magic 8-Ball???
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post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It's popular in the Caribbean, even if it's technically out of range. I think it's because there aren't a whole lot of radio stations available.

Truckers + Boaters + Caribbean = Not a big enough market.
post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

10,000/$100=$1, so I don't think they'd have too much problem with that. I suspect they won't let you download unlimited numbers to your computer, just to your phone and its limited capacity will limit these problems.

this is the funniest math i have ever seen. I hope you are not a engineering student or anyone whose job depend on math. 10,000/100 = 100 (ie, 100 songs for dollar).
100/100 = 1, how can 10,000/100 = 1?. Did you type really fast without realizing what you typed?
post #39 of 43
Why does the music industry think that these schemes are the answer to all their problems?

Surely most of the people who would gladly pay a surcharge of maybe $80 per unit ...... or pay $15 a month for the existing subscription services are people who figure that they are already spending at least that on music from other sources.
post #40 of 43
They better release an unlimited service. My music wishlist is always 30+ songs. it is normally bigger because I never get any money.
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