It looks like Universal is seeking a month-to-month agreement with iTunes, notable stipulations of which being that iTunes would not be guaranteed access to all of Universal's catalog, and Universal would be free to offer iTunes' competitors exclusive content rights.
It's still possible that all of this is merely to annoy Apple into sharing iPod (and maybe iPhone?) revenues with UMG, as I hypothesized earlier. But this is looking more to me like Universal just doesn't see the writing on the wall: iTunes is going to rule until someone comes in and does it better. Do you think Steve Jobs cares too much if a few UMG artists are available exclusively on the Zune store? That would accomplish nothing other than to hamstring the digital sales of the artist in question.
You can bet (or, at any rate, I am betting) that when iTunes finally has someone to be afraid of, it'll be someone offering tracks without DRM. So, unless Universal does a 180° and makes their tracks available on eMusic or Amie Street, this is all just a bunch of huffing and puffing.
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