Pre-Keynote Rumor Round Up: DRM-Free iTunes, OTA Downloads, Tethering Plan

With Macworld Expo 2009 kicking off in just a few hours, a few last-minute rumors have popped up. Among the more prominent are Apple deals pointing toward DRM-free music in the iTunes store, over the air downloads, and hopefully a tethering plan for the iPhone with AT&T.

CNET, reports that Apple has cut deals with three of the biggest music labels to allow them to offer music without copy-protection (DRM) in exchange for more flexibility in the pricing of the songs that they offer.

One of their sources says the deal includes that songs be broken into categories, including older songs, midline songs (ones that are new-ish but not big hits), and current hits.

The source also indicates that Apple and the music industry leaders have agreed to allow over-the-air wireless downloads from the iTunes Music Store on the iPhone, which would allow for downloading music without the presence of Wi-Fi.

In other news, TUAW has a “trusted source” telling them to expect a tethering plan for the iPhone from AT&T. Such a plan would allow a user to pay for an extra service with AT&T in order to connect their iPhone 3G to a laptop and be used as a modem to share it’s 3G network connection. We’ve heard rumblings of this for some time, but most of them were followed by concerns about the stability of AT&T’s network.

Another rumor we’ve been hearing a lot about are of an iPhone Nano, which a source of ours close to Apple said we should be expecting. He described it as probably lacking 3G connectivity (EDGE and WiFi only) and having the thin form factor similar to the iPod Touch, but with the same screen size.

There’s also been a lot of talk about color options for the iPhone, the most prominent being a product (RED) model. This photograph of what appeared to be a pink iPhone with full Apple logo and standard text labels on the back.

Tune in to our Macworld page tomorrow morning to find out which of these were true. We’ll be live blogging (and possibly streaming) the keynote address.

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