At the Macworld Expo today, Apple announced a number of changes to the iTunes Store, including:
- The removal of digital rights management from 8 million songs effective today. An additional 2 million will have DRM removed by the end of the quarter. This will allow users to move songs to other devices and not be tied to the iTunes authorization system any longer.
- Non-DRM tracks will be provided in AAC format at 256kbps encoding. Upgrades will be done using the standard iTunes Plus process and will cost US$0.30 per song or 30% of the cost of the album.
- Variable pricing. Songs at the iTunes Store will now cost $0.69, $0.99, or $1.29 each. Prices will be determined by record companies, not Apple. Some reports have back-catalog tracks going to $0.69, $0.99 being the standard, and new or popular songs coming in at $1.29. I don't see confirmation of that yet, though. Also no word on how this will affect album prices, if at all. This pricing goes into effect in April.
- Over-the-air download of music through the iTunes Store for iPhones using the 3G data network. This feature used to require a WiFi connection. The feature is working immediately.