Steve Jobs took to the stage at Moscone Center today for a special Apple Event, and introduced Apple's new music service, "iTunes Music Store," which will allow users to download music in the AAC format for $.99 per song, and is built-in to iTunes 4. The service offers 200,000 tracks and counting, with unlimited CD burning for personal use. iTunes 4 also adds playlist sharing, and the new iPod add new features, including a new design, a dock, and USB 2.0.The iTunes Music Service files are 128 kbps AAC (reportedly better than 128 kbps MP3), with free previews, cover art, and "reliable downloads." You can browse the music store in iTunes, similarly to browsing your own Library, and preview them directly in iTunes. "One-click shopping" allows you to purchase the song and download it, adding it to your Library, in one click.
The store also offers exclusive music, music videos, and other multimedia, all in the main iTunes window. iTunes 4 will be available now (along with QuickTime 6.2), and the music store will be available today. It is Mac-only now, but will be available for Windows by the end of the year.
As a compromise to help prevent piracy, you must change your playlist every 10 CD burns, and you may share the music with only three other Macs (you may modify the list of computers that the music may be shared with at any time). There was no word on the technology used to handle this DRM.
The iTunes playlist sharing allows sharing of playlists, and the streaming of music from one machine to the other, though copying is not supported ("that would be verboten," Jobs added).
The new iPods will be $299 (10GB), $399 (15GB), and $499 (30GB). The dock holds the iPod upright, and has a line-out. The FireWire port is now on the bottom of the unit, and the buttons have been moved up higher, just below the screen, in a row. The improved screen features a backlight. The new units will be in Apple stores on Friday.