First there was the Amazon MP3 store, which I initially poo-poo’d, but have since come to enjoy. Then there was NBC’s decision to pull their video product from iTunes.
Now, Universal — one of the largest music companies in the world — is developing a plan that will potentially affect sales of not just music, but also Apple devices such as iPhone and iPod Touch. From MacRumors:
Businessweek details the plans of Universal chief Doug Morris to take on Apple’s iTunes music service.
Morris was once a proponent of Apple’s iTunes music store, but has since changed his tune. According to Businessweek sources, Morris is joining forces with other record companies to launch an "industry-owned" subscription service.
Representing 75% of music sold in the U.S., they would ask hardware makers or cell carriers to pay them a $5/month subscription fee. In exchange, consumers of their products would get unlimited music at no additional cost to them ("free"). Music companies would get the $5/month and hardware companies would theoretically sell more units. Of interest, Businessweek notes that despite these efforts to undermine iTunes, Universal can’t afford to simply pull their music from iTunes, which holds a 70% marketshare in music downloads.
I’m sure you were already aware that Uni owns "indie" digital marketplace e-Music. I think it’s safe to expect more breaks from the Steve Jobs’ camp in the near future.