Do you own a portable media player? Possibly an iPod, Zune, Zen or whatever MP3 player? This week Amazon came out of the gates running with a very strong start in the digital tunes store war that pits Amazon vs. iTunes.
Amazon announced their AmazonMP3 beta Tuesday morning and proudly called it the “the world’s biggest selection of a la carte DRM-free MP3 music downloads.”
Why is this significant? Amazon's store has popular songs that work anywhere in any MP3 playing device. There's no DRM which means you won't have to worry whether it will work in your device and you won't have to worry about the song "expiring" when the company goes away like is happening with Sony, Virgin Digital and potentially Yahoo Music. The library includes over 2 million tunes with all of them in a DRM-less, 256 kilobits-per-second MP3 format. The songs will range in cost from 89 cents to 99 cents per track with the top 100 albums costing 8.99 each. While you can copy the songs from device to device, Amazon will not replace for free any purchased tunes - you'll have to buy new ones if you lose the ones your purchased because of a drive failure or anything like that.
To download you can either do a simple download with no browser add-on app or you can download their free app (Windows & Mac with Linux coming soon.) I tried out the downloader by downloading a free tune (everyone gets a free copy of Energy by the Apples in Stereo). The app is just an addon to your web browser. Once installed you simply click on "buy mp3 song" and it automatically downloads and adds the song to iTunes for you. Yes you read right, it adds it to iTunes so for you folks who are used to the iTunes interface there is absolutely zero learning curve.
Is AmazonMP3 an iTunes "killer?" No, not today but it is a very viable competitor with Apple's iTunes which should be very successful and popular as the music collection increases. Amazon is in this game to win and they know their competition - just look at the image on the front page of the AmazonMP3 site. It's a cascade of mp3 players with the iPod being front and center.
I'll be checking with AmazonMp3 first next time I am looking for a tune.