Apple now has a 70% market share of the digital download market despite significant restrictions imposed by the labels, such as the fact you can only download a DRM’d track purchase once, and you can’t share it across multiple devices. According to Bloomberg News, Apple is hoping to loosen things up significantly, and is in negotiations with major labels in the hopes they’ll allow users to buy a track, then have unlimited access to a cloud copy of that song across multiple devices. iTunes would then work like most other broadband distribution platforms from Valve’s Steam to most mobile application stores. Says Bloomberg:
The arrangement would give users more flexibility in how they access purchased music. Apple and the record labels are eager to maintain demand for digital downloading amid rising popularity for Internet services such as Pandora Media Inc., which don t sell tracks and instead let users stream songs from the Web, whatever the device. A deal would provide iTunes customers with a permanent backup of music purchases if the originals are damaged or lost, said the people. The service also would allow downloads to iPad, iPod and iPhone devices linked to the same iTunes account, they said. The move would be a step closer to universal access to content centrally stored on the Internet.
The fact that this is 2011 and iTunes customers still can’t use their music purchases freely across devices is rather staggering, especially considering that “buy once, download as many times as you’d like” has become fairly standard elsewhere not only without the world ending — but with great financial success. It’s also amusing that as most news outlets cover Apple’s efforts, they ignore the fact that music pirates have enjoyed this kind of freedom for years. Apparently, you’re not supposed to talk about the fact that legitimate services have to compete with piracy.