After what seemed like a very, very long time, Amazon today announced that it would be opening an MP3 store later this year. Among the DRM-free titles available will be the catalog of EMI, which announced its plans to offer music without copy protection back in April. There’s no exact timetable on the Amazon store’s opening yet, although there are rumblings that Amazon is looking to fast-track the launch. From the
Amazon, the Internet’s most successful seller of physical CDs, today announced plans to introduce a music download store later this year, selling songs and albums in the MP3 format without the anti-copying protection used by most online music retailers.
Selling songs as MP3 files means that customers can transfer their music without limits to any computer, cellphone or music playing device, including Apple’s iPod and Microsoft’s Zune.
The music will be from a major label, EMI, and 12,000 smaller independent music companies that have chosen not to use the copy-restricting software known as digital rights management, or D.R.M.”We are offering a great selection of music that our customers love in a way they clearly desire, which is D.R.M.-free, so they can play it on any device they own today or in the future,” said Bill Carr, Amazon’s vice president for digital media.
David Card, an analyst at JupiterResearch, said Amazon’s store would immediately position Amazon as a serious rival to Apple and its popular iTunes service. “We’ve been waiting for Amazon to be a serious player in digital music for some time,” he said. “They know how to sell music and this is a powerful endorsement of the MP3 strategy.”
Considering that Amazon has such a strong brand for selling music online, the coming iTunes-Amazon struggle should be an interesting battle to watch–and aside from the issue of pricing (Amazon hasn’t announced its fee structure yet), our nerdy side can’t wait to see how this plays out on the user-experience front. We’re pretty firm in our belief that iTunes’ elegantly integrated experience has helped its marketshare a fair amount; the obvious solution is tying Amazon’s digital-music interface directly into the pages for each available release’s corresponding physical product, so as to encourage the “instant gratification” option that iTunes benefits from. Whether the technology powering Amazon’s store will allow that to happen is still up in the air–if you’ve got any insider information on Amazon’s plans, feel free to drop us a line.