Thursday, December 10, 2009

Steve Jobs & Apple -- Changing Their iTunes Again?

For years, Steve Jobs & iTunes emphatically pronounced that consumers want simple pricing -- "All songs $.99!", he said. He also criticized all other services for not "getting that" fundamental truth. Well, uh, consumers tastes apparently changed, and iTunes quietly instituted a variable pricing model like other services. Jobs had a "George Bush-ian" (George Bush I) "read my lips, no new taxes" moment.

And, for years, Steve Jobs & iTunes have emphatically pronounced that consumers want to own, not rent their music! He has criticized ... nay, mocked ... other services for not "getting that" fundamental truth (streaming services like Rhapsody, Pandora, Napster). Well, uh, consumers tastes apparently are changing once again. We don't know this for sure yet, but we have clues as a result of Apple's just recently announced acquisition of music streaming site Lala (which TechCrunch reported was bought for $17 million -- whereas today's Wall Street Journal reports Apple paid $85 million -- a "slight journalistic discrepancy" there ...)

According to a front page article in today's Wall Street Journal -- which is definitely worthy of a read -- Apple will do one of two things to fundamentally alter the iTunes service via streaming: (1) redefine "ownership" by making all purchases $.10 (a la Lala) but keeping those purchases "in the cloud" -- stream-able to you via the Web, but not down-loadable); or (2) actually institute a subscription streaming model -- i.e., pay an annual or monthly fee to access all music in iTunes. Either way, this ain't true "ownership" (at least, not as Jobs and iTunes have defined it for years).

Now, to be fair, iTunes may leave its current true "ownership" model as one option amongst its new Lala model.

Still, after such vehemence (and downright mocking) year after year about this fundamental issue, it is "interesting" -- needless to say -- when Jobs and Apple change their tune ...

... but will the media -- long-time Apple cheerleaders -- call iTunes out on this one? Doubtful -- Apple is one of those companies that simply gets a hall pass ...