Last month, I wrote about what I thought were the 4 things that Amazon needed to do to be a serious competitor to iTunes.  Well, the beta version of the store is here.  So lets see how they did. 

  • Work seamlessly with the iPod  - If I, (or more importantly, a non-digital-music guru), can't get the music from the Amazon store onto their nano or their shuffle, then the store is a non-starter. How they did:  A - they have a tag-along app that will move your Amazon purchases into iTunes for you. (I haven't tried it yet, as I am linux-bound all week, but I hear that it works well)
  • Broad and Deep Catalog - The Amazon bookstore is a poster child for the long tail - they better do the same for music. How they did  C-  The Amazon store has "over 2 million tracks" which doesn't compare well with iTunes which currently claims 6 million tracks.  
  • DRM-Free - Rumor is that Amazon is doing the right thing here ... no DRM for their tracks. How they did: A+  DRM-free MP3 tracks  - with 256k vbr encoding  for $.89. Very nice.
  • Discovery and Recommendation - Amazon is well known for its recommendation and personalization technologies.  If they can make it as easy to find new music as they make it finding new books then Jeff may give Steve a run for his money.  How they did: Incomplete -  they are doing recommendations based on my previous purchases, but when I try to get recommendations for 'new music' or 'soon to be released' music - I'm told that Amazon has no recommendations for me, and they just give me the 'Top Sellers'  - I expect Amazon to do better than that, much better!

  One nice surprise: Variable pricing - there are many tracks and albums the sell for lower than the $.89. For instance you can get a DRM-free MP3 version of Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here" for $5.60. That's a great deal for  a super album.

Overall : With their 'beta' label, Amazon is expecting an 'Incomplete' grade here.  If they fill out their catalog and raise the quality of the recommendations to the level of their book recommendations, they should be able to get that incomplete turned into an A.


For another source of Non-DRM tracks, there is a website that searches over 6,000,000 of them (not including AmazonMP3, which it says its adding soon) all at once - . With the addition of AmazonMP3, it'll be a pretty incredible search engine, and THE place to figure out where to purchase non-DRM music on the internet.

Posted by SongBoxx on October 18, 2007 at 11:42 AM EDT #

"Wish you were here" is for $5.60. That's a great deal for a superb album, yes

Posted by fel3232 on October 26, 2007 at 08:49 PM EDT #

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