Serious iTunes Competition?

Wal-Mart is launching an online music store that will undercut iTunes prices. That isn’t new. Several competitors have priced their offerings below the $0.99 per track, $9.99 per album that Apple harvests.

However, Wal-Mart is also stripping away the pesky DRM (digital rights management) restrictions that limit the functionality and portability of purchased tracks. In other words, these are genuine MP3 files that can play on any digital music player — including iPods — as well as be burned to CDs without limitations.

The cynic would argue that we have now evolved to the point where you can buy the superior product that has been available for free through illegal file-sharing networks for years. However, let’s give Wal-Mart some credit here. Pricing tracks at $0.94 apiece and full digital CDs at $9.22, it suddenly makes the iTunes Music Store a little less compelling.

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