BusinessWeek can't leave a juicy rumor—that Apple's finally considering going down the iTunes subscription path—untouched. Whereas the NYT and FT seem to be getting their info from label execs, BW claims their sources on the Apple side of the things say "no such talks are under way." So, what's really going on? Here's how we're digesting this specu-flustercuck.
The labels, particularly Universal, are known to be hot on a subscription deal, since it'd provide more reliable revenue from iPods—BW notes the average iPod owner buyers "fewer than 30 than songs" and rips or steals the rest. Apple, on the other hand, is already balling with iTunes just the way it is—now the no. 2 music retailer in the country—and it's really just money icing on the wildly profitable hardware cake. And if it's not busted, why tinker with it?
Since the labels really want a subscription model, it makes sense that label sources would play it up to the press, giving them more leverage at the negotiating table by showing the heavy buzz/demand the rumor is generating. Apple-side sources would spin the opposite way, since—if they really were considering a subscription model—it would give them weight to push down the price, both what they'd give labels and what they'd charge us. And as both the FT and NYT have noted, price is likely to be the major sticking point.
Conclusion? Be hopeful, not wistful. [Businewss]