Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Other Reason Apple now Offers Album Art for Free

With the latest release of iTunes, Apple added some very nice features. Several of them depend upon you having album art in order to make effective use of them. So it's not that surprising that Apple now offers album art through the iTunes music store. It is a bit surprising that they offer free album art even for albums you didn't buy through the music store. While this is mostly to enable the cool new album views in iTunes, there are at least a couple of other reasons.

We can figure out one of the reasons by noticing the wording on the Apple description of iTunes: "As long as you have an iTunes Store account, iTunes will automatically fetch available album art for any CD you imported to iTunes." So, Apple wants to make sure people keep their accounts with the store. This makes sense, as the number of competitors to iTMS increases, Apple will need to do everything it can to keep people buying from them.

A second, less tangible reason is aesthetic: album artwork seems likely to push more people toward iPods with color screens that can display the artwork well. I'm betting Apple hopes this will drive buyers toward the upper end of the product line.

Regardless, I'm enjoying looking at the artwork.


Terry Liu said...

Bro, you are right..

Brad said...

Are you saying Apple will pull out the artwork they gave me if I close out my iTunes account? I got 1247 free album covers for my old MP3 rips from years ago. I couldn't believe it.

I don't have any illegal music, but what if I did? I assume Apple would provide artwork -- a legal issue?

Another issue. Lost iTunes Store sales. It seems to me that the broke 15 year old in the year 2000 who copied his buddies huge Gnutella collection and then downloaded thousands of tracks over the next few years, may have grown up. There they are.. stuck with improperly ripped tracks, partial albums, no artwork etc. I would think they would want to obtain legal albums from iTunes to replace what they have -- all the tracks to the album, artwork, etc. to spruce up the iPod. (Once you get an iPod you become obsessed with making sure track info is correct..). Giving them a missing piece of their puzzle (artwork) might cause them to pause.

Apple makes Billions in revenue from teens and college kids who have to buy the latest. Why give them anything for free?