Amazon bites into Apple’s iTunes market

26 Sep 2007

Apple’s iTunes may be the market leader in digital music downloads but’s new digital music store has 2.3 million tracks for sale that can be played on either iTunes or Windows Media Player and can be listened to on any hardware device from PC to MP3 player to Blackberry.

While iTunes has a back catalogue of six million tracks, most are locked down by DRM, or Digital Rights Management, meaning that they can only be authorized for use on a limited number of machines and can only be played on Apple’s iPod.

Those that are free from these restrictions cost US$1.29 per song whereas Amazon MP3 is offering all songs DRM-free and most of them are marketed at US$0.89c each.

The digital music store, which was launched yesterday, is currently in public beta testing for US customers only, with no announcements on when European customers may be able to avail of its downloads.

Tracks on Amazon MP3 come from two major record labels: Universal and EMI, as well as thousands of independent labels.

“Amazon MP3 is an all-MP3, DRM-free catalog of a la carte music from major labels and independent labels, playable on any device, in high-quality audio, at low prices,” said Bill Carr, vice-president for digital music.

“This new digital music service has already been through an extensive private beta, and today we’re excited to offer it to our customers as a fully functional public beta.”

When customers search for a certain artist or album, the website will now return the choice of buying the actual CD or downloads the digital version.

This isn’t the first time has dipped its toes into the world of digital downloads, it currently offers its US customers ‘Unbox’: a TV show and movie download service where content can be bought or rented.

By Marie Boran