iTunes Store To Remove DRM, Futz Around With Pricing: Do You Care?

noah | January 6, 2009 11:30 am

One piece of MacWorld-related big news that doesn’t involve Steve Jobs’ health: The iTunes Store is apparently going to embrace the idea of dynamic pricing (no more 99-cents-per-song standard) and ditch digital-rights management in the near future. According to Peter Kafka, the pricing for songs will be tiered between 79 cents, 99 cents, and $1.29. No word on whether Amazon’s practice of engaging in loss-leading deep discounts will be copied by iTunes, although the price-slashing they’ve engaged in up to this point, and the fact that unlike Amazon they’re not trying to take marketshare away from an already-established competitor, would make me think that not many $1.99 albums are in the offing. But hey, I’m ready to be surprised!

The other part of the announcement—regarding iTunes possibly going DRM-free—involves an issue that’s hard to gauge as far as whether or not the public cares. My personal feeling on the whole digital-rights management thing is that people don’t really care, as long as what they’ve purchased works. So Apple’s “five devices per track” limit on each protected track seems generous on first blush, but once you have a track in your library for longer than, say, the lifespan of two hard drives and three iPods (or vice versa, or… well, you get my point), you’re forced into buying the damn thing all over again. We’ve heard for a while that Jobs and Apple have wanted to strip any protections from their files, only to face resistance from the labels; perhaps one of the bigwigs who wanted to play hardball with Apple finally upgraded his iPhone after the holidays, only to get frustrated when he couldn’t hear the copy of Nikka Costa’s “Like A Feather” he’d bought on a drunken late-night “Genius Just For You” spree.

Confirmed: iTunes Going DRM-Free. Unclear: Does Anyone Care? [Media Memo]