All-you-can-eat music model from Apple’s iTunes?

22 Aug 2008

It is called iTunes Unlimited, it offers an all-you-can-eat subscription service and it costs US$130 per year for high-quality 256Kbps digital music. It is also a rumour, albeit a strong one, that is doing the rounds of many Apple rumour websites after an anonymous tipster contacted sites, including MacDailyNews, with alleged information on the service, which they claim will be announced in late September.

Currently, the Apple iTunes music model is a pay-per-download structure typically charging 99c per song and €9.99 per album, but the allegedly forthcoming iTunes Unlimited model would mean that for a flat rate of US$130 per year music fans could download and play as many songs as they like through iTunes.

However, these songs would be available from only 50pc of Apple’s back catalogue, according to the tipster, which probably means that DRM (digital rights managed)-free music is out of bounds, so this would leave the subscription tracks bound to selected media players including the iPod and only from within the iTunes media player on desktop or notebook.

The current pay-per-download model would also continue to exist alongside the new model.

However, there is also rumoured to be a subscription plan bundled with Apple’s MobileMe service, which already provides subscription-based online services and software.

This is neither the first time that Apple has been rumoured to be launching an all-you-can-eat music service, nor is it the first wave of this type of music model as several have already existed for many years, including Emusic and Napster.

ITunes Unlimited is rumoured to launch in October alongside the release of iTunes 7.8, but a music subscription model from Apple has been predicted for the past few years so I wouldn’t hold my breath just in case as there has been no official word from Apple itself.

Meanwhile, in the real world of non-rumour, access to the iTunes Store has been banned from within China following the release of the album Songs for Tibet – The Art of Peace this Wednesday past.

Apple iTunes does not actually offer its services within China but users can download podcasts through the store and purchase music if they hold a US credit card.

By Marie Boran           

Pictured: an album from the current pay-per-download music model on iTunes Store