Like the Timex Social Club, I spend a lot of time lamenting the rumors that surround me every day. How do they get started? And where do they get crazy? In Truthmongerer, I’ll try to suss out the kernels of truth in the rumors that are taking up airspace in gossip columns, blogs, and our tips inbox.
THE RUMOR: iTunes is going to launch a subscription site called iTunes Unlimited as soon as October. And access to as many downloads as you like will only cost $129.99 for the whole year!
TRUTH THRESHOLD: 7.5%.
LIKELY TRUTHS: Before we get into that, let’s outline the specs of the new service, according to a tipster who’s been spamming as many sites as he can with the details:
-256 Kbps music; highest quality digital music subscription service ever
-50% of U.S. store available for iTunes Unlimited at launch, U.S.-only launch
-Available through iTunes or retail box a la MobileMe, funds applied through iTunes gift cards cannot be used towards subscription purchase
-$129.99 stand-alone or $179.99 with MobileMe, current MobileMe subscribers can add iTunes Unlimited for $99.99
-One-year subscription period
-Current a la carte options unchanged
-When signed in to subscription account, “Buy” is “Get”
-”Download and Play throughout iTunes Unlimited Subscription” or “Buy and Keep”
-”Buy and Keep” option available for downloaded subscription songs, purchased version replaces subscription version
- Late October launch with iTunes 7.8
It reads like Mac fanboy fan fiction, really.
LIKELY FALSEHOODS: Would the major labels actually be OK with giving people unfettered access to music for the low price of 131 single-song downloads–via iTunes, no less? Wouldn’t the Big Four be more likely to head to eMusic first, or develop such a service with Amazon, given their fractious relationship with Apple and tendencies toward acting like spoiled children? Would iTunes really launch such a high-profile service with only 50% of its inventory available, thus further confusing and angering users who already feel burned by the whole MobileMe debacle? And isn’t Steve Jobs a little too market-aware to foolishly think that people will start caring about subscription services simply because it’s branded with the Apple logo?
I think all of those questions can be answered with a huge “No.” (In a tasteful font, of course.) And Silicon Alley Insider quizzed a few music executives about the possibility of “iTunes Unlimited” coming to pass, and they all said they know nothing about it. I think this thing is not a likely proposition anytime soon. But who knows, maybe Apple will change the “Buy” button on iTunes to a “Get” one across the board. Anything to reel in cash from the BitTerrorists who aren’t all that bright, right?
Rumored iTunes Music Subscription [Listening Post]
Music Subscriptions Coming To iTunes (AAPL) Next Month? Nope [Silicon Alley Insider]