[9/26 update: some very good summations on the recent launch of amazonmp3:
Hypebot provides analysis and an overview of additional commentary
Daring Fireball (as usual) provides another great bit of analysis.
This could provide serious competition to iTunes. You can download the tracks from AmazonMP3 at 256kbps, and they’re DRM-free (so they work on your iPod or any other digital player).
The lack of DRM means that Amazon MP3 has only a 2mm song inventory, which is a long way from the massive catalog on iTunes. However, I think this is the first real pressure that the labels will face when it comes to DRM.
My question is, why did it take Amazon so long?
I’ve been fooling around with the AmazonMP3 store for a little while now. I’m more convinced than ever that it’s going to present a serious threat to iTunes. First off, they’ve integrated the AmazonMP3 store very nicely with iTunes. For example, when you purchase a song or album from the AmazonMP3 store, it automatically downloads into your iTunes app on your computer (complete with artwork). This obviates the need to have separate players – smart.
Second, and perhaps most crucially, the variable pricing is a big deal, and prominently featured throughout the store. I’ve spent quite a bit of time perusing the albums priced under $5.00. There’s a pretty amazing selection of stuff. In about ten minutes of browsing, I bought a couple live Miles and Coltrane recordings (neither available on iTunes), a Neutral Milk Hotel record, and debated over a handful of others.
In terms of comparison, I did find the Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane record on both iTunes and AmazonMP3 priced at the irresistible $5.99. I own this album already, but if I were to buy it today, I’d obviously grab the DRM-free version from AmazonMP3.
I have a feeling it’s not just DRM that has just taken a huge beat-down today, but also the idea of static pricing.
Daring Fireball concurs with my assessment:
In just a few minutes of shopping, I found plenty of songs at Amazon that are only available from the iTunes Store with DRM. Given the Amazon MP3 Storeâ€™s audio quality, prices, and user experience, I canâ€™t see why anyone would buy DRM-restricted music from iTunes thatâ€™s available from Amazon. And given that Amazon is quite a bit cheaper than iTunes Plus, you might as well check Amazon first. I plan to. (Amazonâ€™s biggest shortcoming compared to iTunes might not be the selection, but the fact that itâ€™s currently limited only to the U.S.)
The Amazon MP3 Store is clearly the biggest and best rival to the iTunes Store. Itâ€™s not a coincidence that theyâ€™ve eschewed DRM completely.