Saturday, August 13, 2005Music downloads reaching NZ, DRM and price big issues
New Zealand is finally seeing some movement from the big players in online music downloads. (That's "iTunes" to you). Apple has bought the itunes.co.nz domain name (Dominion Post), while Coca Cola have launched their own service. Prices are $1.75/song or $18/album** - a discount on store prices (let's say $24) but not a very large discount. And you can't play their tunes on an iPod (surely a big issue for a lot of people).
Meanwhile, mobile call prices in New Zealand are among the highest in the world (Dominion Post).
Not everyone is happy with iPods, says Peter Griffin in the New Zealand Herald. The criticism comes because the iPod isn't compatible with Microsoft's Digital Rights Management. Meaning you can't load DRM'd files on the iPod from either the Coke download service, or from Sony's CDs, which are all going to be DRM'd from the end of the year. (Cheers Sony - you've just guaranteed I won't be buying any of your CDs).
I'm not sure whether consumers should be mad at Apple for going its own way, or at Microsoft and the record companies for using DRM. (Here's a thought: DRM is pointless and will only annoy paying customers. I can get any song I want on file-sharing networks, anyway. I do not need to rip or copy your CD. BUT, if you make it hard for me to take songs from a CD I have legitimately purchased
and transfer them onto my PC, I might be more inclined to just download the songs. It's easier).
Finally, the launch of Vodafone's 3G phones is being greeted with indifference, by Peter Novak in the Herald. He criticises the videophone feature for lag and pixelation. What's worse though is the music download feature. Songs cost $3.50 to download. That's twice what they cost from Coketunes. They have DRM to prevent you moving the song to your PC. The phone has 32mb storage. That's it. So you can store maybe 8 tunes on your phone, before you have to start deleting to make room for more. With issues like these, would it be any wonder if people chose to pirate songs for use on these phones, rather than paying ridiculous prices for them?
** As a note for American readers, I'm talking New Zealand dollars. Which are worth about 70 cents, US. So $1.75 for a song translates as US$1.23. More expensive than the US iTunes, but not extortionately so.