The Financial Times reports that Apple is, indeed, discussing subscription music with the record industry. I've long argued that subscription services were the way to go, so I'm sure the Apple fanatics who dismissed this idea immediately will spin things accordingly now that Apple has played its hand:
Apple is in discussions with the big music companies about a radical new business model that would give customers free access to its entire iTunes music library in exchange for paying a premium for its iPod and iPhone devices.
The “all you can eat” model, a replica of Nokia’s “comes with music” deal with Universal Music last December, could provide the struggling recorded music industry with a much-needed fillip, and drive demand for a new generation of Apple’s hardware.
Nokia is understood to be offering almost $80 per handset to music industry partners, to be divided according to their share of the market. However, Apple has so far offered only about $20 per device, two executives said. “It’s who blinks first, and whether or not anyone does blink,” one executive said.
Detailed market research has shown strong appetite among consumers for deals bundling music in with the cost of the device, or in exchange for a monthly subscription, executives said.
One executive said the research had shown that consumers would pay a premium of up to $100 for unlimited access to music for the lifetime of the device, or a monthly fee of $7-$8 for a subscription model.
Wow. Exactly what I and many others have argued for. Exactly what Steve Jobs said he'd never do. Again, I can't wait to see the spin on this one.