Sunday, June 03, 2007

iTunes Plus... A Fresh Lemony Scent, Perhaps?

Couple thoughts on Apple's first foray into the brave world of non-DRM'd music:

  • I think the most of the user experience in iTunes is handled nicely. There had been some worry about this -- I seem to recall some speculation before the EMI announcement that Apple would only take out DRM if they could do it store-wide, and keep things simple. Anyway, the iTunes Plus branding and the simple option to either always or never see the plus songs seems to work just fine.

  • That said, it's very odd that the upgrade songs feature does not allow you to select individual albums or tracks -- it's all or nothing. That's not a good user experience.

  • I'm a little surprised by the album upgrade, as well. Since they seem to have mostly held the line on the $9.99 album even for Plus albums, it's not completely clear to me why I have to spend $3.00 to upgrade my old $9.99 album to a new $9.99 album.

  • I do hear some difference in sound quality on the new tracks. Granted that a) I know that there's supposed to be a difference, b) I have really cheap sound equipment and c) not exactly professional-quality audiophile ears. Even so, it seemed to me that sharp sounds like percussion and acoustic guitar seem to pop out of the background a little more. The effect is more obvious in my car than on my cheap headphones. Go figure.

  • The big controversy, of course, is the fact that account information is still embedded in the non-DRM files. (Unless I'm mistaken, that information was in the DRM files, so before we get all conspiracy theory we should at least consider the possibility that it was either overlooked, or a pain to remove for some reason). I was amused to see two different blogs where the blogger breathlessly posted this dastardly information only to have commenter after commenter say it isn't that big a deal. Which it isn't — it's not like Apple removing DRM from the music somehow changed copyright law... I'll grant that it's always a little creepy to find a personal infobit somewhere you don't expect it, but I'm having a hard time getting worked up over it, especially since I expect it'll be fully hacked by the time I finish typing this sentence.