Posted January 9th 2009.
After having tested the water with the timid iTunes Plus initiative, Apple has announced the shift to higher bitrate, DRM-free music files as the standard for their iTunes music and music video downloads, emulating rival Amazon's MP3 Store launched in 2007.
Still, all is not good in iTunesland; my title might've been a bit deceiving, as DRM-free may now be the de facto standard, but previous purchases from the store will still required converting from its computer-tied, iPod-exclusive format to openness. As of now, the upgrade will set you 30¢ per song.
The end of DRM is also a Trojan horse for a stealthier announcement: Most likely caving to the music industry's pressure, Apple's previously strict 99¢ per track strategy has been dropped in favor of multi-tiered pricing. Songs will now sell for 69¢, 99¢, or $1.29 depending on freshness and consumer demand.
Hopefully, this pricing model ends up helping smaller labels, who will benefit from the lower prices. Disclaimer: Holding your breath may lead to severe asphyxia.