Apple pushes for ringbacks, 3G music sales?
Apple hopes to make a major push into mobile music in time with the launch of the 3G iPhone, say sources speaking with the New York Times. In addition to expanding the number of songs that qualify as ringtones, the company allegedly hopes to introduce ringback tones that play in place of the typical dial tone. Apple also wants to overcome earlier limits and start selling iTunes songs over cellular networks rather than limiting access to Wi-Fi connections, according to cited music label officials.
Discussions began just a few weeks ago and may see any additions miss the expected introduction of the 3G iPhone, the sources add, but have Apple determined to make a “big launch” for these services in June.
However, the move may also force Apple to make concessions in music if it hopes to launch the service in time, the report cautions. Music labels in particular are pushing Apple to increase the amount of revenue earned per song past 70 cents for the right to download over cellular networks. These companies may also press Apple to change the rigidity of its pricing and boost pricing for new songs while dropping the prices for legacy titles.
Apple is described as unlikely to bend on per-track pricing on absolute terms but isn’t yet known to have made decisions regarding over-the-air prices. Ringbacks may nonetheless be a possibility, as the raw income per download is higher than for normal ringtones.
Universal Music is also reportedly continuing to press Apple to embrace its Total Music concept, which would involve paying a premium for devices in exchange for a subscription that provides unlimited but permanent music downloads over a set period. Apple is not averse to the concept but is reportedly unwilling to lift the price to what music labels would prefer customers pay.