iTunes preps subscription revolution

Apple is preparing to introduce its own music subscription service, called iTunes Unlimited, reports claim.

The new service seems set for introduction next month, when the company is also expected to launch a new range of iPods, including higher capacities of the lower-spec models, and a new and improved iPod touch at a lower price.

The big deal for music though is the iTunes Unlimited service. This will allow subscribers to download as many or as few tracks as they like, these tracks will work on iPods, iPhones and computers running iTunes, but will require subscribers to keep paying in order to keep them working.

Presumably, Apple has tweaked its FairPlay DRM in order to provide time-limited downloads. This could also be good news for Mac users and the BBC, as it means the broadcaster may choose to use iTunes to offer its shows for time-limited download to the Mac, a service PC users already enjoy through iTunes.

We’ve been anticipating subscription services for some time. Apple has it seems negotiated the rights to offer half its catalogue through the service. A year’s subscription will cost $129.99 on its own, $179.99 with MobileMe or $99.99 for existing MobileMe subscribers.

Music will be made available at 256k, and users will be able to choose to buy those tracks they want to own permanently.

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