Sony: Publishers ‘Held Ransom’ By Apple, May Drop iTunes


Nothing like a fresh round of recriminations from the music industry against Apple’s dominant digital delivery platform, iTunes. The latest round comes from Sony, which hints it may pull the likes of Bob Dylan and Beyonce from Apple following a dust-up over the Cupertino, Calif. company’s rejection of Sony’s ebook reader application.

In an AdAge interview, Sony executive Michael Ephraim charges music publishers are looking for alternatives to iTunes. (Sony just happens to own one of those alternatives, “Music Unlimited”, which the company plans to launch.) In addition, Ephraim asks and answers whether the music giant will continue selling titles at Apple.

“Publishers are being held to ransom by Apple and they are looking for other delivery systems, and we are waiting to see what the next three to five years will hold,” Ephraim is quoted. Sony’s ‘Music Unlimited’ service would stream more than 6 million tunes to a wide range of devices, including Sony TVs, PlayStation game consoles and Blu-Ray players. Sony contends its service is best because it directly connects with various hardware, rather than using cables and Apple’s iTunes software application.

In the interview, Ephraim also asks whether Sony needs to provide content to iTunes if its ‘Music Unlimited’ service is a success. “Currently we do. We have to provide it to iTunes as that’s the format right now.” (Emphasis added is ours.)

Earlier this month, Apple rejected Sony’s ebook reader application due to the app not allowing consumers to purchase e-books through the Cupertino, Calif. firm. Apple later modified its stance, announcing e-book publishers could allow consumers to purchase titles outside websites as long as buying through iTunes was provided as an option.

For some time, Apple has been expected to launch its own streaming music service, helped by a huge data server complex in North Carolina and the 2009 acquisition of online music streaming service Lala.