Though Apple declined to comment before the announcement, those who have used the new service say it’s as easy as buying a book on Amazon.com. Recommendations based on listeners’ preferences are plentiful; the system seamlessly interplays with Apple’s free iTunes jukebox software and with the iPod.
Downloads of single tunes are available at sites such as Bestbuy.com and Samgoody.com, but the offerings aren’t very deep and pricing is all over the map. The new Madonna single, American Life, is available for $1.49 at BestBuy, while Before You Love by Kelly Clarkson is $2.49. Apple is expected to have a much wider selection and consistent pricing, with songs that easily can be moved to portables or burned to CDs.
Wolpert argues that for all the expected hype from Apple chief Steve Jobs about the convenience of buying single tunes, “on Rhapsody you get unlimited songs for $9.95. So if you found 50 songs to listen to, it would cost $9.95. On the Apple service, that 50 would be $50. That could be a problem.”