Vodafone has announced that from this summer the company's music store will start switching to DRM-free MP3 files, with every Vodafone network going DRM-free over the next few years.
Germany, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, and the UK will be first to drop the Digital Rights Management that currently encumbers music bought from Vodafone, with the remaining Vodafone territories following soon afterwards along with partner networks.
Vodafone is trumpeting deals with Universal, Sony, and EMI, while skipping lightly over the omission of Warner and BMG, but the network reckons their RealNetworks-powered store has more than million tracks available. The UK store charges a quid a track, and £6 for an album, which initially compares badly with Amazon, but Vodafone does offer a bulk discount - commit to buying buy 15 tracks and they'll only cost you 50 pence each.
If you're buying now the tracks are still encumbered by the DRM, but Vodafone says they'll allow customers to download unrestricted MP3 versions of purchased tracks without additional charge once the new service is launched.
The transition also involves moving to MP3 file format, which is a shame as there are plenty of alternative codecs that offer higher quality with greater compression, but in the mind of the public, MP3 is associated with compatibility and lack of restrictions. So we're stuck with it. ®