Well its official that Apple will offer a DRM free solution; BUT at a fairly hefty premium of 20p (~$0.39) per track. You could argue you’re being asked to pay more for less!
Ok, so the quality is meant to be higher – although it does leave question begging – does that mean that normal DRM’d tracks are substandard, and that buying CDs and ripping them is still the better option? Oh, and the interoperability issue – well, the files are Apple’s AAC – so to be seriously portable, you’ll need to know how to transcode to MP3 (or Ogg Vorbis or FLAC to avoid quality loss), and how many high street punters know how to do that?
Given the finger pointing and sabre rattling coming from the European Commission and governments, are Apple likely to be out of the woods? According to the Financial Times today (Brussels to target Apple’s iTunes site) probably not as it would appear that Apple are the subject of an investigation for violating EU regulations on cross border purchasing with regards to country restrictions on purchases. Something I find kind of ironic given the successful BPI attack against CD-Wow (see recent posts) for its sourcing of CDs.