Yesterday, Amazon announced that they will be selling music downloads for less than what Apple charges at the iTunes Store, AND the files are DRM-free (read: unlocked and copyable).

Their downloading venture is called Amazon MP3, and the store boasts a $.10 savings per song compared to the iTunes Store and this MP3 format is devoid of the Digital Rights Management software that Apple commonly uses. (Note: if you compare like files, Apple’s DRM-free versions are $.40 higher than Amazon’s.)

Amazon’s move toward digital downloads has everyone buzzing, of course. Aside from the price and copyright differences, music purchased from the iTunes Store can only be played on an iPod. Conversely, MP3 files will play on ANY device.

What will this mean for consumers? It seems to me that competition is healthy when it comes to big business, and this means that we will have an ever-expanding library of digital music from which to choose.

As it stands now, though, the selection on Amazon is pretty much limited to a 15-year-old girls dream music catalog. Not that that’s a bad thing… I imagine as time goes on, their offerings will expand.

For that to happen, though, the music companies and artists they represent have to be on board. What does this mean for them? I guess we have yet to see who will go willingly, and who will put up a fight! If many music companies refuse to comply, Amazon’s store will stay extremely limited, thus alienating customers.

I’m curious to see how it plays out. Amazon and Apple are both savvy, innovative companies (side note: I started using Amazon’s grocery store when it was introduced over a year ago, and it has grown considerably since then—the organic section is great for things I can’t find locally.)

Tell us what you think!


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