Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the man behind the popular iPod digital music player, called the music industry greedy for considering hiking digital download prices, warning such a move would drive users back to piracy.
Record companies have begun rethinking how to price songs sold over Apple's online iTunes store 99 cents each in the United States and 79 pence in Britain before new contract negotiations come up with the California-based company.
"If they want to raise the prices, it means that they are getting greedy," said Jobs, chief executive of Apple (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research), at a news conference in Paris on Tuesday.
"If the price goes up, they (consumers) will go back to piracy and everybody loses," he added.
Hit hard over the past five years by the rapid spread of illegal song copying over the Internet, music companies are struggling to revamp their business models as sales shift to more legal digital downloads from the CD format, reports Reuters.
As their contracts with Apple come up for renewal, music companies are seeking to improve their take from sales through the U.S. ITunes site, which charges 99 cents (U.S.) per song. Prices are typically higher in Europe, Japan and other regions.
Mr. Jobs indicated he plans to stand firm. "Customers think the price is really good where it is," he said.
"We're trying to compete with piracy, we're trying to pull people away from piracy and say, 'You can buy these songs legally for a fair price,' " he added.
"But if the price goes up a lot, they'll go back to piracy. Then everybody loses."
Industry analyst Philip Leigh, who runs U.S. market research firm Inside Digital Media, said record companies were smarting over their loss of control as on-line customers cherry-pick favorite hits.
"A full CD might have only three or four popular songs," Mr. Leigh said. "Now that the consumer's able to buy each song individually, they don't have to buy the whole CD, and the labels are concerned that this will result in lower revenues," informs Globe and Mail
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