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November 2010

The Beatles on iTunes, but not in Hong Kong

So the Beatles catalogue is finally available from the iTunes music store. Which is all very exciting. Or maybe not…

OK, there might be a few people with iPods who haven't worked out how to place their Beatles CDs into the CD drive of their computer and then import them into ITunes. It's really not that hard, but maybe some people can't manage it.

There might even be a few Beatles fans who haven't got round to buying the albums 30+ years after they came out, but who would like to have them on their iPods. Or who just want to buy "Hey Jude".

But it's certainly not big news for people in Hong Kong, because we still don't have access to the iTunes music store.

Which begs another question: since it is now ridiculously easy to download any music you might want without paying for it, all this announcement really means is that people now have a way to pay. And pay rather a lot, with individual tracks priced at $1.29 and albums at $12.99.

I really don't understand this pricing. If I buy a physical CD (or a book) it has to be manufactured, it has to be shipped to the retailer (who has to pay rent and salaries), etc., etc. But the marginal cost of an MP3 (or the proprietary Apple format) is effectively zero. Likewise the cost of a Kindle "book".

In a world where items that cost nothing to produce are available free, what is the logic of having a high price for those who choose to pay, and why make it so difficult to buy?

Yes, I know there are ways to buy music from the iTunes store, and I'm sure that it's possible to get around the restrictions that make some titles for the Kindle unavailable in Asia Pacific, but why should I bother? If they don't want my money, then that's their problem and not mine.

See also this earlier post on a similar subject