A leaked memo from Apple to the music labels suggests Apple is increasing the length of music previews on iTunes from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. The change would only affect music files that are longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Tracks shorter than this arbitrary limit will keep the 30 seconds preview. Previously rumored to be announced at Apple’s Fall event, this feature was reportedly delayed because of licensing problems. This latest leak implies that these licensing issues have been resolved and the feature is ready to roll out.
While this change may seem to trivial to users, it reflects the ongoing battle between Apple and the music industry. The struggle over DRM, pricing, previews, and more started when Apple launched iTunes Music Store back in 2003. Steve Jobs has pushed the music industry to offer music tracks for 99-cents and then to offer tracks without DRM. This music preview is the next skirmish, but a bigger battle looms in the future.
The next battleground will be the cloud as Apple is rumored to be turning its LaLa acquisition into an iTunes-in-the-cloud service. In this scenario, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad owners would be able to store their media in the cloud and use iTunes to stream their favorite music or videos while on the go. A subscription-based iTunes service is also reportedly close to launch. Steve Jobs has been able to successfully negotiate with the recording industry thus far, let’s hope they can pull off another coup d’etat and move our iDevices away from the desktop and into the cloud.