Golden: After two days of tire-kicking and a couple of test-drive downloads, I can join the chorus of Mac-zombies who are singing in unison, a chorus of grateful praise for the iTunes Music Store. If one is not an iTunes user already, it might be hard to understand what the big deal is: I mean, you can download mp3s for free, why pay 99 cents (assuming one doesn’t have hang-ups with the legal and ethical issues related to free downloads)? Yet I could list dozens of ways consumers spend money for free stuff everyday. Here’s just a couple: ATM fees; the fee for getting coins converted into cash at one of those machines at the grocery store; a $3 beer from the bar that your neighbor would give you for just showing up on the back porch. You get the idea. If access to music is seamlessly integrated into the way you already access and listen to music, then 99 cents for instant gratification is, well, a cheap pleasure.
For an example of the 99 cents difference in using iTunes Music Store and a traditional file sharing service, I ran a test a few moments ago. I chose a certain tune that will go nameless due to my lack of time to explain why it was chosen. Using Limewire, it took about a minute to launch and locate the cut. I had to attempt several times before finding a file that would actually respond. And then, it took almost 8 minutes to download and import the song into my iTunes library.
Using iTunes Music Store, the entire search, download and placement of the same song into my library took less than 45 seconds. And then, about 5 seconds to synch to my iPod.
And it’s legal. And I live in Nashville where lots of people depend on recorded music having a profitable business model. Once again (and again and again), Steve Jobs has improved the quality of my life with an elegant product.