Is Apple warming to the idea of variable pricing? One could say it is based on details surrounding its newly announced deal with HBO. Apple is selling several of the company's original TV series at different prices--$2 for episodes of "Sex and the City," "The Wire" and "Flight of the Conchords"; while "The Sopranos," "Deadwood" and "Rome" will cost $3 an episode.

Although it seems like a stretch to apply this same model to music. Of the cheaper HBO shows, all but "The Wire" are only a half-hour long, while the $3 shows all clock in at an hour. Although "The Wire" is an hour long, it suffered from low ratings.

What is significant about the deal is Apple's willingness to bend a bit at content owners' demands. It already lost NBC as a partner over a revenue split dispute, and adding such popular series as "Sex in the City" and "The Sopranos" are big gains.

It's unlikely, however, that this will translate to differentiated pricing for music anytime soon.