It turns out that Apple filed for a patent that would allow users to resell or loan digital content back in 2011 and 2012, which could make the iTunes store much more appealing for those still unconverted. This allows music, eBooks, films and games all to be passed onto other users preventing them from having to repurchase the media. Amazon has a similar patent, but it relies on going through the central marketplace. Apple is looking to make it a cloud-based system and relatively open.
The patent also covers some limitations like how long a user must have had the digital media before they can resell it, and it will come down to licensing negotiations with the media industries.
It’s an interesting idea, and I believe that the music industry will in fact be fine with it – songs are already sold without DRM, so users can give each other music anyway, albeit breaking copyright but the likelihood of getting caught is small. Other media markets like film and games might be less keen, given that they still use DRM and so obviously want some control over their content and what consumers can and can’t do with it.
It will help convert physical media buyers over to iTunes though – one of the main arguments for physical media is that it can be resold/gifted when done whereas with digital media you can’t.