Apple’s iPhone getting in tune for 3G

According to the New York Times, Apple boss Steve Jobs isn’t happy with the musical attributes of the iPhone. The Times reckons the company is currently thrashing out a new deal with record labels to make sure the handset is up to scratch musically in time for the expected launch of the 3G model in June.

The paper says Apple’s hoping to expand its inventory of ringtones and ‘answer tones’ tones – the music the caller hears instead of the phone ringing while waiting for the person they’re caling to pick up – and, more interestingly, whether iPhone owners will be able to buy iTunes tracks over the mobile network, rather than sideloading them from a PC.

In return, the Times says, the record labels are asking for Apple to allow them to set variable pricing or introduce a subscription model, rather than sticking to the traditional 99 cents per song pricing scheme.

The fact that Apple is only now talking about ringtones and downloading music over mobile networks shows how much of a mistake launching with a 2G model may have been for the company – the original 2G model could prove to be the undoing of Apple’s fixed price model, which it’s stuck to since it launched iTunes way back when. The alternative, of course, is that Apple sticks to its guns and tells the labels to go jump – and risk losing out on all that lovely data revenue.

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