Negotiations between iTunes and the four major labels are looming, and there’s been a fair amount of talk about the majors’ desire to shift iTunes to a subscription model similar to Napster, Urge, and other also-ran music-selling sites. But yesterday, Jobs told a reporter that he was pretty lukewarm on the idea–and he even used the f-word while doing so:
“Never say never, but customers don’t seem to be interested in it,” Jobs told Reuters in an interview after Apple reported blow-out quarterly results. “The subscription model has failed so far.”
His comments come as the company he co-founded gears up for contract renewal negotiations with the major record labels over the next month.
Since Apple launched iTunes in 2003, it has sold more than 2.5 billion songs and now offers increasing numbers of television shows and movies.
Many in the music industry hope iTunes will ultimately start, in effect, renting music online, so record companies can make more money from recurring income. But Jobs said he had seen little consumer demand for that.
“People want to own their music,” he said.
Maybe Jobs doesn’t want to dredge up memories of the first dot-com bubble, but there’s something else that labels seem to be forgetting about in their banging on about subscription services: Few things last forever on the Internet. So the resistance to the subcsription model probably isn’t just rooted in the fact that people want to own their own music; they also want decide for themselves when they want to surrender it. (OK, they probably also want to carry around those cute iPod Nanos, instead of crippled players that claim to have access to “2 million songs” but really only allow users to hear a fraction of that. But still! That goes back to consumer choice, too, right?)