Today, Amazon unveiled their long-awaited challenge to iTunes’ dominance as the premier music download service: Amazon MP3.
After a quick perusal, I’m pretty impressed with Amazon’s public beta, and it sure looks like it could be the first on-line music store to finally give iTunes a run for its money. Sure, Amazon MP3 only has two million songs for sale (as opposed to iTunes’ six million), but those songs are cheaper (individual songs are as low 89 cents and MP3 albums are as cheap as $4.99). And best of all, Amazon’s MP3s are free of any pesky DRM crap, meaning that they can play on any MP3 player and on any operating system.
You do have to install a special MP3 downloader (it’s required for album purchases), but that strikes me as a relatively minor quibble. The reviews are coming in and they’re all pretty positive. All told, this looks like a fantastic service, much better than any of the other iTunes alternatives out there. And hopefully, this will encourage more studios to realize that DRM doesn’t do anyone any good.
On a related note, Amazon has also redesigned their website. After playing around with it a bit, I like it. It feels simpler and more streamlined, incorporating all of the functionality that folks have come to expect in a newer, more efficient way. Note: it looks like Amazon hasn’t completely rolled out the new design, so you might not see it, or you might see it on some computers but not on others.