As I am sure many of you have heard by now, Apple and Record Label EMI announced the availability of DRM Free music coming to iTunes next month. Many have speculated that if this were to happen it could really eat into the sale of the iPod. I have a bit of a different view on this.
First off, Apple gets a portion of the sales from iTunes. iTunes sales have surpassed everyone’s expectations to a point, where I am sure that Apple is acutally making a profit off of a service that was originally not expected to do so. They had originally planned on it just breaking even. Also, at this point, there are like close to 100 million iPods out there now.
I know many people who have iPods that have refused to by tracks from iTunes for two reasons: 1) The files aren’t high enough quality for them, and 2) They don’t like the DRM that restricts where they can use the file. These people will finally have their two gripes met. Secondly, there are many who won’t buy an iPod because they don’t like the closed aspect of the iTunes locking you to the iPod making it a monopoly. Should the rest of the record labels realize this is going to work, and follow suite, I think we’ll see these hold outs finally be willing to buy an iPod.
I have talked to many people who have bought other mp3 players and have been very dissapointed. The iPod didn’t become what it is just because of a fad. While that may play some part in it, it has more to do with the fact that Apple has always been good and knowing what consumers want. They have made one of the easiest to use devices on the market and have continued to improve the offering while continuing to keep the simplicity of use there. So often other players forget that they need to have that ease of use to create loyalty. Until they learn that lesson, Apple will always hold the lead on this market.