I give only kudos to Apple Computer and EMI Group for their announced deal Monday. Although I know the discussion of dropping DRM protection stems back Apple CEO Steve Jobs' suggestion earlier this year, I'm truly excited to see that a major label has signed on to the idea.
Finally, the big daddies heard the people and embraced the on-demand, in-control nature of our tech society. We don't want restrictions, we don't want boundaries - and we'll pay a premium for to keep it like that.
Then again, I speak on behalf of the music-loving, tech-sensitive nerds who truly get why this is such a big deal. As for other iTunes users, it's time for Apple to start educating.
On the whole, I don't expect a lot of people to pay a premium unless they know exactly what it is they're paying to receive, or what they can do with it after they buy it.
Sure, "higher quality" sounds great on paper, but how do you firmly illustrate to users why that jump in bitrate is such a big deal? How do you clearly explain that you can instantly convert these songs to MP3 without having to burn a CD, rip the CD and risk losing audio quality?
I see this as the USB of the music industry. Music fanatics will easily argue that MP3 is not a great format for a true fan's experience. For those looking to just spin a tune, though, MP3 is still the standard. By allowing users to legally convert files to whatever format they like, it leaves the door open for future innovation and change. I don't want to pay for a copy-protected WMV song, only to be screwed when I buy an iPod after my Zune eats it. I don't want all copy-protected AAC files that don't work on my old-school Dell DJ.
I don't want to be restricted.
MP3, however crappy in quality, is the only compressed file that is widely accepted by multiple players and machines. Until this changes, such as when the industry agrees to adopt a standard file format, the only thing to lure consumers is the allowance of change.
Apple and EMI, thankfully, did just that.