Ever since the Beatles have come to iTunes, I have had some concerns about this exclusivity practice. What I fear will happen is that iTunes and EMI will take advantage of the fact that the Fab Four have become a major turning point in popular music and work out ways to gouge the customers.
My first question is whether Apple will extend the exclusive-sale contract beyond the initial year as agreed and when will competing download outlets be able to sell this music after the initial year? This also includes that issue that I had heard about of late where EMI made it possible for iTunes to charge extra to the Australian market for the same material.
My second question is whether the material will be available through iTunes Plus as unprotected MP3 files or as digitally-constrained files that only work with iTunes and the iPod / iPhone / iPad hardware families? There has been a lot of concern about Apple’s digital-rights-management management constraining playback of content from competing devices like DLNA-compliant home networks for example. What I would like to see for the Beatles music is that the content is as MP3 files that are able to be played on competing smartphones and personal media players or via the DLNA home media network even through the period of exclusivity.
I would still be very careful about any period where highly-valued media is made exclusive to one distribution platform over other competing platforms and check for issues like useability on competing devices before committing to it. As well, I am looking forward to the day when competing online music stores can sell the Beatles discography.