I don't buy music by the track I tend to buy the album - hence my questions. If the whole album could be bought and download for less money then yes I would possibly open an account with iTunes rather than buying it, but only if I can freely play it on any device.
If it only came in AAC and I had to convert it again to MP3 (losing further quality) then I would probably still buy a physical CD to do with as I see fit. In all honesty, if I were to download an album, the first thing I would do would be to burn it onto a CD (yes jfanning we still have CD players in our house) which costs me in media and time - but I don't have as good a CD as if I'd bought it as a CD. Not to mention my bought CD has a resale value - it might only be $1 or $2.
So in my opinion - $1.99 is a lot for a track when you end up buying multiples from an album - halve it and we might be talking. Maybe I'm too old or too cheap! Which is why I usually buy compilation albums.
As I have said in other posts, unless you have some strange or old device there is no need to convert to MP3, but if you want a MP3 other online music retailers sell them, bandit.fm is one example.
The price of digital downloads are not perfect, I purchase somethings on iTunes, some from bandit.fm, or on CD, what every gives me the best deal, I was very much against digital downloads for music to start with, but have over 800 downloaded (purchase/iTunes giveaways) now.
And yes, the full album price is generally a lot cheaper than purchasing an individual item, for example
Presidents of USA $18.99 for 26 track album, or $1.79 each track
Florence + The Machine - Ceremonials, $23.99 for 21 track album, or $2.39 each
It works the same way as a CD single to a full CD works, but the stores like iTunes allow you to only purchase the good songs off the album if you wish.