Apple’s iTunes tops consumer watchdog shadow shop

July 4, 2007

Apple's iTunes tops consumer watchdog shadow shop Apple’s iTunes Store has topped a CHOICE shadow shop into nine online music stores that offer music downloads in Australia.

CHOICE is a leading consumer watchdog based in Australia.

According to CHOICE, Apple’s iTunes Store scored 82% overall because it was the easiest to use and performed well. Sanity Digital followed close behind with 81%.

While CHOICE acknowledges that downloading songs from the internet has become a convenient way for busy consumers to purchase music, it’s not happy that different sites offer music in different file formats that may not be compatible with every portable music player.

CHOICE is calling for online music stores to introduce compatible file formats that don’t “lock” music sites to music players.

CHOICE found downloading tracks from the nine sites relatively simple, with the exception of BigPond (a service provided by leading Australian telecommunications carrier Telstra). CHOICE says the download window wasn’t easy to use and our shadow shopper had to download a licence for each song.

Despite following BigPond’s steps, CHOICE could not download and play two of the three songs that were paid for.

CHOICE was also concerned by the some of the digital rights management (DRM) restrictions imposed by some sites.

While stores such as ninemsn and Sanity Digital provide DRM information for each track before you downloaded it, CHOICE says it would like to see all online music stores providing information alongside other details, such as price and format, so consumers can easily and simply check usage restrictions.

A single track costs between AUS$1.20 and AUS$1.89 in Australia. However, CHOICE suggests that if you’re really into an artist, you should remember it’s usually cheaper to buy an entire album than all the tracks individually.

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