updated 07:45 pm EDT, Wed September 26, 2007
Amazon store bests iTunes?
The first reviews of Amazon MP3 store , which offers DRM-free tracks at prices that are generally cheaper than the iTunes Store, are in, and most have come down in favor of the new service relative to Apple's offering. MP3 tracks sold through the Amazon store are encoded at 256 Kbps in MP3 format, as opposed to 128 Kbps in AAC format on the iTunes Store. Most tracks are also priced at $.89 on the Amazon store, while Apple charges $.99 for FairPlay DRM tracks and $1.29 for a smaller selection of DRM-free tracks. Over 20,000 independent labels are onboard, while major labels include previous holdout artists such as Radiohead, Amazon says.
Machinist says that the Amazon transfer-to-device experience nearly matches iTunes, despite its Web-based nature. "The store is on the Web, but after you download a small companion program -- works on Windows and Mac -- you can reproduce the same one-click experience you've come to love in Apple's store (the app automatically adds purchased files to iTunes or another favorite music player). Amazon's store also lets you search for and preview music just as easily as in iTunes."
Selection is a point of contention, however. The iTunes Store offers about 6 million tracks, while Amazon has about 2 million. That's not the whole story, however, as Apple's selection of DRM-free media is much smaller than its selection of FairPlay-restricted tracks.
Also worth considering is Amazon's track record in selling items online, which predates Apple's efforts considerably. The Motley Fool, commenting on Amazon's chances for success in the digital music download space says "Amazon sold $10.7 billion worth of merchandise last year -- $7.1 billion in the form of media -- but at issue here is more than just respect for Amazon's girth. Amazon is a trusted source in music. Now it also happens to offer the better deal. If you have a choice of paying $0.89 on Amazon for a higher-quality track with no DRM, or $0.99 for a lower-quality track with portability restrictions, where will you turn?"