- 20 Mar 08, 12:23 GMT
By free, it means doing a deal with record companies so that in return for a share of the purchase price of an iPod consumers get unlimited access to music.
If true, and I have no knowledge either way, it would turn the iTunes business model on its head because Apple and Steve Jobs have always banged the drum for music you own, not music you rent.
Of course iTunes has recently moved to a rental movie model, alongside a download model, so the potential to mix and match is there.
But business models aside the missing ingredient here is community.
At the moment iTunes is an old fashioned application - a stand-alone download that organises your music and videos and syncs your iPod or iTunes.
But it's an isolated, unconnected experience. You can use plug ins like Last FM to bridge the user divide, creating community playlists etc, but I'm surprised that Apple has never evolved iTunes into a more connected piece of software.
One of the reasons for this, of course, is that a single user has a pretty limited license when it comes to sharing his or her music.
You can share music across a local area network, for example, but that sharing does not extend to iPods or iPhones, or even the wider internet.
But a rental music model, or one attached to a physical device, would allow Apple to open up iTunes.
For example, I could download and listen to a friend's playlist he or she had compiled for me, because we both share a rental license for all our music.
And the wi-fi connectivity of new iPods, plus the cellular connectivity of iPhones, means in theory this could happen whenever, wherever.
I could have music pushed to my iPhone just like e-mail, and in return I could comment, tag, build a new playlist and push it back to my friends.
All of this is beginning to happen already with offerings from Nokia and Vodafone and with Rhapsody in the US, and if Apple doesn't move soon it might find itself overseeing a dinosaur - a digital jukebox offering music tethered to individuals and to specific devices.
I'd love to hear how you are enjoying your music; are you using a home server and accessing it via a mobile phone for example, or would you be interested in sharing your music widely?
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