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Macworld: iPhoners can download tunes over 3G connections: Apple introduces tiered pricing strategy for iTunes

Apple Inc. used its final Macworld Expo appearance to tout new iTunes features including long-awaited support for 3G over-the-air song downloads to the company’s iPhone device.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of marketing, wrapped up his keynote in San Francisco with several iTunes-related announcements, including a new pricing structure that offers songs at 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29 per track, depending on popularity (a change from the service’s 99-cent standard). And the company said it will offer DRM-free versions of 8 million songs starting today, with the remaining 2 million songs in its catalog available without antipiracy software by the end of March.
As for the iPhone, users can now preview and purchase tunes from the entire iTunes library over a cellular network for the same price as desktop downloads, Schiller said. The songs will automatically be downloaded to a user’s computer the next time the devices are synched.
The iPhone had previously supported only side-loaded music or Wi-Fi downloads.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer our iTunes customers DRM-free . songs in high quality audio and our iPhone 3G customers the ability to download music from iTunes anytime, anywhere over their 3G network at the same price as downloading to your computer or via Wi-Fi,” CEO Steve Jobs said in a prepared statement. (Jobs was missing in action at the Macworld event, following the revelation he has a hormone imbalance.)
The ability to download songs over AT&T Mobility’s 3G network in the United States at regular iTunes pricing could finally help move the needle in mobile music, where ringtone revenues have plateaued and full-track services have failed to find an audience. Though iPhone 3G customers are required to sign up for a $30 per month data package from AT&T Mobility, the iTunes service leaves the carrier completely out of any per-track revenue stream.
Interestingly, though, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. have long offered over-the-air song downloads on their respective music storefronts. And AT&T Mobility itself in 2007 began offering over-the-air song downloads to suitable phones via its Napster service.


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