Apple will zap Digital Rights Management protection from all songs on iTunes which will remove one of the most persistent criticisms attached to Apple's online music service; the fact that tracks are "infected" with DRM and cannot be played on different players.
It is likely that Apple has been responding not only to customer demands but also to the growing number of DRM-free music services like Amazon Music. 7Digital or Play.com which have been touting their millions of DRM-less features that Apple couldn't offer till now. The files will still be encoded in AAC format at 256kbps and cannot be played on most other MP3 players (including mobile phones).
The move by Apple means that several million songs will be available without copy protection as iTunes Plus becomes the standard. Apple is the world's largest online music store having sold more than six billion music tracks since its track. By March 2009, 10 million music tracks will be available DRM free, tipping the balance and almost certainly signalling the end of DRM.
However, in what some could call a cynical financial ploy, Apple is offering to customers the possibility to upgrade their tracks to the iTunes plus format for 30 cents per song (60 cents per music video) or 30 percent of their album price; essentially asking users to pay twice for the same product.
From April 2009 onwards, Apple will offering three price tiers, starting at $0.69, $0.99 and $1.29 with the majority of albums still costing $9.99. Studios will be allowed to choose their own pricing which means that popular tracks will likely be more expensive than niche ones.
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Apple has already raked in billions but they are now looking to get in a few million more by encouraging their customers to upgrade to iTunes plus. That's paying double for the same product. Making iTunes even more expensive than buying a CD or getting it in the first place from other online MP3 music stores.