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Apple iTunes Store

So what does everyone think? Will you buy from it? Are $0.99 and $9.99 good price points? Could anyone else have pulled this off? How slick is the shopping experience inside iTunes?

pb
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Honestly I think the prices are a little high for purely digital media...

Until they release iTunes for Windows, though, it is still going to be off my radar (along with ~90% of the computer using public's).

George McBay
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I think there are a lot of people who want to buy, rather than steal, electronic versions of music, but don't want to put up with the byzantine, pointless restrictions of existing services.

Will iTunes be successful?  That depends on how quickly it expands beyond the Macintosh ghetto, and how quickly the now-modest playlist grows.  If those issues are attended to, this service will be a world-beater.

Hardware Guy
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I'm looking forward to it coming out for Win32. There are certainly a fair number of songs I wouldn't mind getting, and I'd be willing to pay $1 per song for most of em.

Have to see, I suppose.

(The other thing is, if this succeeds in bringing in a fair bit of revenue, someone smart over at apple might drop the price 1/3 or 1/2, but who knows)

Steven C.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

My brother showed me the iTunes store today. It is amazing - Apple (shrewdly and correctly) decided to make the interface look and work almost *exactly* like Kazaa, eDonkey, Napster, etc, as opposed to the clunky HTTP interfaces of most online stores. The only differences are the $0.99 price tags :).

Buying music is incredibly easy. Low-fi samples download instantly. It only takes 1-2 mouse clicks to buy a song. The hi-fi stream downloads very quickly and is automatically added to your playlist.

As a geek the only (very minor) problem I can see is that Apple chose DRM-enabled AAC as the audio format. However this is easy to work around if you prefer plaintext MP3 or OGG, since they let you burn the songs to a regular unencrypted CD, which you can then rip as usual.

As a businessperson there is a huge flaw: no Windows version. If the iTunes store doesn't come to Windows soon, it very well may be stillborn. But I expect that the record companies that have agreed to use the system will see *major* sales spikes due to iTunes, even in the early Mac-only stages.

It will be interesting to see how record companies react to the $0.99-per-song, a la carte pricing. The tradition of putting one or two good songs on a CD, plus a bunch of filler crap, won't work in this world. People will just pay $2.00 for the good songs and ignore the rest.

Dan Maas
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Check out http://www.listen.com

It's totally legit, it's been around for a while, and the advantage of this over iTunes (besides being available for Windows) is that it has a $9.95/month flat rate for unlimited streaming.

SomeBody
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

"As a geek the only (very minor) problem I can see is that Apple chose DRM-enabled AAC as the audio format. However this is easy to work around if you prefer plaintext MP3 or OGG, since they let you burn the songs to a regular unencrypted CD, which you can then rip as usual."

Unless they add anti-ripping copy protection to the audio track that inserts cracks and pops into the audio stream when digitally ripped. Then you can't directly rip, you'll have to analog record it at 1x, trim it up, etc. Not a big hurdle, but big enough for a lot of people.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Ripping MP3 or AAC will generally lead to unacceptable quality. But I don't understand what the problem is with AAC in the first place.

The 30 second samples are hi-fi. Same quality as what you purchase.

I suspeect the pricing won't change much other than that new singles will likely get priced higher and older or less popular stuff a bit lower. But I think they'll preserve the $0.99 price point at the sweet spot. $9.99 for albums is quite a discount.

Apple's model seems quite a bit better than listen.com in avoiding the monthly subscription. Jobs was quoted as saying he'll have more customers than the competition in one day or perhaps even an hour, which could be true. And the others already support Windows.

pb
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

The issue with AAC is that it's patent-encumbered, therefore no (legal) open-source player exists. (again I'm talking from the point of view of a Linux geek here, 99% of Apple's customers probably won't even care).

And yes, having to burn-then-rip will certainly hinder casual piracy.

Dan Maas
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Transferring from a protected AAC to MP3 will yield a horribly poor quality track.  An unprotected AAC to MP3 conversion will yield a poor quality track (they're both lossy but cut out different things).

The two things Apple clearly did right with this store is not the format or the protection scheme, or even the interface (which is quite nice).  The Search feature is incredibly functional and allows one to find nearly anything (if its available - 200,000 songs and counting).  And the one click buying - that's the kicker.

By allowing the user to enter their information just once, and allowing a quick browsing, sample, and one click purchase (which initiates a download) they've reduced the hassle of buying to nearly zero.  Now that's a winning feature.

Lou
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

To be perfectly honest, I think that people will keep infringing on copyright (note, not "stealing" or "pirating", copyright infringement).

Even if someone came out with the dream system (e.g. improved napster (at it's peak) for $10/month or $0.10 per song); I think that as long as the free P2P systems are still available, most people will go with free rather than pay.

I think what it boils down to is that intellectual property (songs, tv shows, software, etc, etc) isn't viewed as "real" in the same sense as, well, real property (automobiles, trees, bricks, etc, etc). So most people don't think that intellectual property has value in the same sense that real property does. Which you can sort of understand since intellectual property is a pretty recent invention (not the IP itself, of course, songs have been around forever, but the idea that songs are like horses and have value in the same way).

Bill Tomlinson
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

" I think that as long as the free P2P systems are still available, most people will go with free rather than pay."

I don't think so. I think nerds will go with free rather than pay, but my mom, and my grandma, and my nurse sister will buy songs from iTunes for 99 cents. there are still quite a number of people who don't fart about on the internet 12 hours a day, people who actually buy things at physical stores.

I personally still buy most music on CD because I never find what I want on file sharing networks. I've always found it odd that people buy cds put out by say... eminem , not because of file sharing, but because at any given moment I can turn on the radio or MTV and inevitably hear one of his songs.

what I would be interested in...does anyone know if apple has any plans to let other "stores" show up in itunes? it seems unlikely...however if there are any plans in the pipe for letting boutique music retailers appear in the itunes store, i know EXACTLY what my next business venture is going to be. ;-)

choppy
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

If you don't read /.:
http://features.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/04/30/1310258

I'm rather glad Apple isn't immediately porting to Windows, it's time Windows users got sloppy seconds.

anon
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

I think there are plenty of nerds who would prefer to buy their music.  It's just that now, we can't easily do that in the manner we want.  If the RIAA offered a service with the ease of use of the sharing programs, I think it would take off.  iTunes service sounds like it might be that, though the mac-only thing is pretty restrictive.

I think the idea that people only use sharing services because they are free, and that they will continue to do so, is a fallacy.  Yes there are some people who feel that they should get the music for free, but I think most of us accept that we should pay for it, and are willing to do so.

Mike McNertney
Thursday, May 01, 2003

Bill said earlier "intellectual property (songs, tv shows, software, etc, etc) isn't viewed as "real" in the same sense as, well, real property (automobiles, trees, bricks, etc, etc). "

That's because intellectual property IS fundamentally different than physical items. In economic terms, intellectual property is nonrivalrous. If John Ashcroft steals my Segway, then I've lost a means of transportation and DOJ gained one. If Jack Valenti comes to my house and copies my Sopranos DVD to his computer's hard drive, then he can watch the program without affecting my ability to do the same.

This distinction is important for people like Kevin Mitnick who get sentenced based on the dollar amounts it took to develop software he was accused of accessing, as if that entire dollar amount was lost by the "victim" companies.

Based on that precedent, anyone who shoplifts Hillary Clinton's crappy new memoir should be sentenced stealing the $8,000,000 it took Simon & Schuster to "develop" the book's content.

Larry Prince
Thursday, May 01, 2003

It's just ok. These guys know what will make it better:

http://tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2003/04/30/AppleWA
http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/3148

fool for python
Thursday, May 01, 2003

"I think there are plenty of nerds who would prefer to buy their music. "

You mean they want all there software to be free, so decent programmers have to be hobbyists or are otherwise considered the spawn of the devil, but they would love to pay for their music, so the f'in dopehead gettho punk can be a revered "professional".
Nice society dudes. I'm glad you have your priorities all straigthened out. And then they complain that the rest of the world does not want to become America 2.0. Djeez.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, May 02, 2003

According to Billboard, there were 275,000 tracks sold in the first 18 hours.  Not bad considering they were having 504 and 500 server errors for the first 12 hours.

le bob
Friday, May 02, 2003

>>Will you buy from it?

Wish I could! As per usual, it's "US only" again - as if the world ends at the US borders.... guys, there's a WHOLE LOT of customers OUTSIDE the US who'd be more than willing to make use of your offerings! Don't ignore the rest of the world!!

>>Are $0.99 and $9.99 good price points?

Compared to the overpriced "physical" media in the store - absolutely! A new CD album should cost no more than $10 these days - they're dirt cheap to produce, but they're still around $20-$22 here in Switzerland (or more) - as they were 20 years ago when they were introduced.

>>Could anyone else have pulled this off?

Yes - if they only wanted to.... I'm glad that Apple is forging ahead (with great success) - maybe that'll show the RIAA the potential, and teach them to treat their customer like that - customer who PAY for their product - not like potential thieves and criminals......

Marc Scheuner, Switzerland
Tuesday, May 06, 2003

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