In a move that is sure to get a lot of attention, Apple made it clear today at Macworld that iTunes was going to see a change in strategy. Primarily, the service will be due for a DRM overhaul, which will be seen by consumers as more and more content being made available without any DRM on the songs sold. The limited selection of DRM-free music is about to be superseded by over 8 million songs, with an additional 2 million expected to be added before the end of the quarter. This is an exciting move for any iTunes user, and confirms rumors late last year that more content providers were getting ready to offer DRM-free music.
That's not the only change in store for iTunes. The service will also now have multiple pricing brackets, which apparently will be in the hands of the content providers, rather than Apple, to choose. To start there will be a lower cost 69-cent tier and a higher cost $1.29 tier. Somehow I doubt that many vendors will go with the lower price, so many might see this as just a price hike compared to their traditional 99-cent per song costs.
The biggest downside of all, though, is that to “upgrade” music already purchased, you have to pay the 30-cent difference between the original cost and the new $1.29 cost. That probably won't go over well with people who have massive media collections already, but no matter what anyone says it's a step in the right direction. Last but not least, iPhone users will be happy to know that they can now access the iTunes music store over the 3G network, not just Wi-Fi.