iTunes Europe finally launches with UK single prices of 79p, about a 40% markup on its US prices. Admittedly that’s taken against a low dollar, and their album prices significantly undercut the high street. But it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Apple are happy to perpetuate their traditional policy of overpricing their UK products, particularly since it dovetails so nicely with the major labels’ more-or-less identical stance. (The Euro price is somewhat fairer.)
Plus, they have made a complete hash of arrangements with the Association of Independent Music (AIM), which represents XL, Ninja Tune, Warp, Grand Central, Hospital and almost everyone else I want to listen to, meaning that it’s mostly mainstream fare — all the way from Eric Clapton to Jamie Cullum. I don’t know what your uncle is like, but I can’t see mine using iTunes.
I’m delighted that iPod and iTunes have been so successful. But I have doubts about how sustainable it is, given this pricing structure, the closed AAC standard (surely Apple should know, after years of experience against Microsoft, that closed platforms are emphatically not good), and the DRM system that they can change at whim. I’ll be buying Apple products until I go into the ground. But I think they might beat me to it.