Apple has announced three significant changes to its iTunes Store at Macworld Expo, but the first is undoubtedly the biggest news: the music and video download service, which features more than 10 million songs, is finally going Digital Rights Management (DRM)-free.
Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller told the assembled throngs at Macworld Expo yesterday that the service has sold six billion songs since going online in 2003. More than 75 million accounts with credit cards have been created thus far.
No more DRM by the end of March
iTunes Plus is Apple's DRM-free encoding for the iTunes Store; music is encoded using the Advanced Audio Codec format (AAC) at 256Kbps. Eight million of the iTunes Store's 10 million songs are now offered without DRM; the entire catalogue is expected to go DRM-free by the end of the first calendar quarter of 2009.
New pricing structure
Since going online, the iTunes Store has retained one pricing model. That's changing in April, said Schiller - there will then be three pricing tiers: 99 cents, 69 cents, and $1.29 in the US. Schiller assured the crowd that more songs are going to be offered at 69 cents than at $1.29, however.
iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store goes 3G
The iTunes Music Store previously was limited to allowing purchases on the iPhone only over Wi-Fi; that restriction has been lifted, at least for iPhone 3G users, who can now purchase and download content to their iPhones over a 3G connection. That feature was implemented yesterday, and provides iPhone users with the same price and selection on the iPhone as they would find on iTunes on the Mac or PC.