According to one music industry executive, Apple is considering launching a subscription version of the iTunes Music Store this year.
CNN's Media Biz blog quoted Les Ottolenghi, the head of Intent Mediaworks, as saying he's talked to Apple people about a subscription service. "I think Apple is seriously considering a subscription offering right now even though they will probably tell you otherwise," he said in the report.
Subscription music services such as Rhapsody, after a rough start, have found a footing but haven't caught on with music buyers in the same way as Apple's iTunes. That could change if Apple embraces the model, which it has eschewed for years.
Many pundits believe that while lots of people do like to buy and own their digital music, there's enough of a market out there for renters to justify well-designed subscription services. Blockbuster and Netflix do pretty well on the video side, after all.
This rumor has been making the rounds for years, as noted by CNET in 2005 as well as last year. Is Apple finally ready for a subscription service? It's not clear to me how subscription iTunes would work with DRM-free music, but note that Intent Mediaworks has built its business around DRM technology.
An Apple representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.