Workarounds as a business model
Wired’s Listening Post blog has an interesting piece by Eliot Van Buskirk hypothesizing that iPhone applications may provide a workaround for the intransigence of iTunes pricing. Artists who want to be available via Apple at a price other than the fixed rate of 99 cents can simply package their music as an application.
The article gives the example of Seventh season “American Idol” winner David Cook. 19 Entertainment/RCA is selling a virtual lighter application, one that just happens to play Cook’s single “Light On,” for $1.99 (iTunes link). Ad-supported free downloads are another possibility, as are a variety of other possible business models.
The obvious objection is that music acquired through an iPhone app wouldn’t synchronize with iTunes. But this could be overcome, Van Buskirk believes, by sending purchasers an unique code for downloading an MP3. That’s a lot more work than most people are willing to do – otherwise iPods might not have the giant market share they enjoy – but there may be a germ of a viable idea in here somewhere.