How MS Can (And Will) Shake Up iTunes

Disclaimer: I loathe Apple.

Here are few things about how Apple may possibly be reconsidering offering media content subscriptions. The first two feature Intent MediaWorks, who claim to be the world’s leading DRM technology provider. First, Intent claims that Apple’s anti-DRM deal may hurt its efforts to continue making traditional deals (which means “DRM”) with music companies. Second, Carl Howe writes that Intent has probably ruined any chance of getting a deal with Apple for its CEO’s prediction that Apple would sell subscriptions within six months.

This appears to have some legs despite Steve Jobs’ protests. Music companies are reportedly interested in Apple adding a subscription service. And if Jobs won’t give them their subscription service, perhaps Microsoft will. Redmond is reportedly considering offering a “free” Zune to subscribers in much the same way cellular companies offer “free” phones.

If Apple continues to decline subscriptions, would such a strategy turn Zune into an iPod killer? I think it could. Apple would continue selling songs from 99-cents to $1.29 each (and let’s be serious — most people aren’t going to pay a thirty-cent per song premium for DRM-free content that takes up twice the space on their players) to put on their $100-$400 iPods while people with “free” Zunes pay $15-30 a month for presumably unlimited downloads. The subscription price point will very likely determine its success, but the music companies are savvy enough to know they don’t have to be as “greedy” in a subscription market — they’ll have a set income and they’ll get to control redistribution of their protected content.

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