Pre-Loaded iPods : IdeaWatch 2.0

Earlier this month, Apple Computer , now Apple, Inc., reached an agreement in its long-standing feud with Apple Corps Ltd. , distributor and holder of the Beatles music catalog. The dispute arose over the use of the name Apple. With neither party willing to budge, they reached an agreement in 1991 that Apple Computer would not be able to sell music through physical media. Sixteen years and hundreds of millions of iTunes downloads later, Apple has clearly found a way to be successful in the music business without violating the terms of their agreement. The new agreement allows Apple Computer to keep the name, while licensing it back to Apple Corps.

On its face, the new agreement would seem to pave the way for the Beatles library to finally be available on iTunes. Some commentators, however, have identified a perhaps unintended consequence of the deal that opens a world of possibilities to enterprising minds.

It's as simple as this...Apple is now able to sell iPods preloaded with music. For the enterprising music promoter or distributer, it creates a unique opportunity for cross-promotion with the hottest digital music player on the market.

U2 iPodU2 iPodYou may remember a year or so ago when Apple released the U2 iPod , with a custom case design. It came with a coupon to download the whole U2 catalog, but didn't come with the music pre-installed.

Imagine the possibilities now...a Rolling Stones iPod with their entire catalog and a custom case or skin. Christian Aguilera releases her new music not on CD, but on a pink iPod nano loaded with all of her old and new stuff. A new band loads their music on an iPod shuffle and sells it at retail price. The idea is pretty simple...get your music in the hands of people by putting it in a medium that you already know they want to get their hands on. And for fans who might shell out $150 for a catalog box set, what's another $150 to get a very cool music player?

Branch this out into TV and film, also available through iTunes, and the idea really takes off. How about a video iPod with an entire season of 24? Or the entire Pixar collection?

I wouldn't be surprised if we start reading about these partnership arrangements in the next 6-9 months. And I wouldn't be surprised if bands started paying to get their songs preloaded on all new iPods.

How about it? What's your ultimate iPod collection?

Tim Whitney
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