Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

What else did we miss at Apple's keynote at the Macworld Expo? Not much.

"The real story about the new 17-inch [MacBook Pro], however, is the battery. And that should tell you everything you need to know about the excitement level of this conference."

-- End User Blog,

I think the big news, which many gadget-happy and new-Mac-model-happy attendees, press, and bloggers are making too little of, is Apple's move to strip all DRM from music sold in the iTunes Store. This is a big deal, and it's long overdue, not least because some other online vendors, Amazon included, managed to strike DRM-free deals with the record labels before now. Apple's pioneering arrangement was getting old and crufty, and this is a great step.

My feeling is that the new three-tiered pricing model for songs, with individual tracks varying at 69¢, 99¢, and $1.29 starting later this quarter, is a quid pro quo for losing the DRM encrufting. The labels have been clamoring for tiered pricing for a while, since they want to be able to get more than 99¢ for brand new, especially long, or otherwise-premium individual tracks. (That's one reason some music has been available album-only, not as individual tracks.) Much as I like the flat pricing, I have no problem with recognizing that some music really is worth charging a little more for, and Apple has said that as they roll this out, much more music is going to be 69¢ than will be $1.29. "Library" tracks, old songs that people aren't knocking down doors for, and "discovery" tracks from new artists, would be great at the discounted price.

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