Will Apple’s (AAPL) next iPhone software update — version 2.2 — include an over-the-air iTunes store? (You can currently buy music via wi-fi, but not over AT&T’s 3G network.) We think so. Why?
- MacRumors points to screenshots from a German blog (right) of someone purportedly downloading a podcast from iTunes over a 3G connection, running iPhone 2.2 software. If the screenshots are real, we think it makes sense that Apple would activate paid downloads — iTunes music purchases — at the same time it activates downloads it doesn’t make any money from — podcasts.
- Google’s (GOOG) first smartphone, the T-Mobile G1 — one of the gadgets that could provide Apple its strongest competition this Christmas — has a wi-fi-only MP3 download store powered by Amazon (AMZN). It makes sense for Apple to beat competitors’ features when it can.
- While iTunes competes with BitTorrent and easy piracy on desktop computers, there aren’t really any music-stealing options available on the iPhone. So buying a song for 99 cents would be your only option.
Potential sticking point: AT&T (T) probably wants to make sure its 3G network doesn’t get overwhelmed with a slew of iTunes purchases. (AT&T probably also wants a share of the purchase price, but we doubt Apple is going to fork it over.) Anyway, we don’t think that’s a very big deal: We’d be surprised if people used as much bandwidth on iTunes downloads as they do with other, free music and video software that’s already available for iPhones.
So we think over-the-air music downloads will arrive sooner than later — maybe even in time for Christmas, when stockings get filled with iPhones and iTunes gift cards.
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