SAN FRANCISCO—At a press conference held April 28, 2003, Apple announced its new music digital download service, dubbed iTunes Music Store and making use of the company’s iTunes music jukebox software.
According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, ” The Internet is built for music delivery,” and the subscription services currently online are the wrong path. Garnering licensing deals with the five major labels, iTunes Music Store currently offers 200,000 high-fidelity tracks, with more added daily. Features include: unlimited CD burns (though a user must modify the playlist after every 10 burns); compatibility with an unlimited number of iPod portable MP3 players; the ability to use the downloaded music with other “i” software; and the provision to play on up to three Macs at once via OS X’s Rendevous software. This last feature allows the user to stream—not download—another user’s playlist (as long as he/she is using iTunes jukebox) to his/her computer.
Unlike the subscription services, users can preview a 30-second snippet of a desired track (AAC-encoded at 128 kbps) for free and then purchase that track for $0.99 (or $9.99 for an entire album). Credit card charges are made via Apple’s one-click shopping, where a user’s card is charged each time a purchase is made.
Other features of the new service include original CD artwork; the ability to browse by genre, artist or album; exclusive tracks from 20 (and growing) artists; streaming video; and links to artists’ Websites.
Available immediately, the currently Mac-only (Windows compatibility is expected at the end of this year) service is available as a free download at www.applemusic.com; there is a free software upgrade for iPod users who need to upload iTunes 4.
Other product announcements at the conference included Version 3 of iPod, which includes a headphone jack, FireWire and USB2 cables ($19 accessory cable for USB2 expected in June), a dock to connect it to a user’s computer, a Mac and Windows version in one box; AutoSync, AAC decoding, on-the-go playlists and a personalized main menu. Levels include 10 GB for $299, holding 2,500 songs; 15 GB for $300, 3,700 songs; or 30 GB for $499, 7,500 songs.